Review of giant Blakelands warehouse in Milton Keynes is open to more questions being raised

An independent review of how planners gave the go-ahead to a giant warehouse behind people’s homes will include checks on other planning decisions made by Milton Keynes Council.

The council’s Audit Committee was told on Tuesday that the reviewer, Marc Dorfman, expects to take 20 days to meet residents, councillors and others, and will be open to receiving other questions. The review will cost in the region of £20,000.

The Blakelands warehouse

The Blakelands warehouse

Cllr Allan Rankine (Cons, Bletchley Park) said he needed to ask more questions than had already been set. Duncan Wilkinson, the council’s chief internal auditor, said new issues can be added, and said he would provide residents with an email address so they could contact Mr Dorfman.

Committee members heard that Mr Dorfman will spend a “full immersive week” at the council, getting to know everything about the planning department, and attending meetings.

During the decision to grant permission for the 18m tall warehouse in Yeomans Drive, Blakelands, some 14 conditions had been left off an official letter. The whole decision-making process will be looked into.

The report to councillors says “further information had come to light, which appeared to show the council had been aware of the 14 missing planning conditions, some months prior to the original date when officers had highlighted their concerns.”

Other issues to be probed include why the original planning officer, Jeremy Lee, was removed from the case. It is alleged that he had said he would recommend the plan for refusal and was replaced by Samantha Taylor following a complaint from the applicant’s agent.

There have also been concerns that council “officers are misinforming the Development Control Committee”, which Mr Dorfman has been asked to look into.

Audit Committee chairman Cllr Peter Cannon (Lib Dem, Shenley Brook End) said: “If other councillors have issues to raise they should raise them individually.

“I look forward to seeing the full report in due course.”

The committee is planning to receive an update at its September meeting, and review the full details in October.