Santander set to get 999 year lease on land for its new HQ in Milton Keynes

Council land is set to be leased to Santander to allow the banking business to build its multi-million pound new headquarters on a site near Milton Keynes railway station.

Santander was granted planning permission in the summer for its Digital Hub, in the block between Grafton Gate, Elder Gate, and Silbury Boulevard, which is currently a 284-space council-run pay and display car park.

An artist's impression of the new Santander Digital Hub

An artist's impression of the new Santander Digital Hub

Now, at a Delegated Decisions meeting at MK Council on Tuesday (Oct 29), a council cabinet member will be asked to approve the signing of a 999-year lease for Santander to occupy the land. It will be granted when the development has been completed. The bank itself owns a 2.8 acre slice of the block.

Similar arrangements are also being made between Santander and The Parks Trust, which has a lease on the land, and the Milton Keynes Development Partnership, which is a council-owned land company.

Santander’s Digital Hub will be an eight-storey building intended to be a base for 6,000 of the bank’s staff who are currently spread over four locations in the city.

It will replace the bank’s existing offices in Midsummer Boulevard and be in four blocks, providing 398,000 sq ft of office space.

It will also include shops, cafes, a community hall, auditorium, health and fitness centre, and co-working space.

It is seen as providing a landmark building for Milton Keynes by the council.
In their report to decision-maker Cllr Martin Gowans (Lab, Bletchley East), the cabinet member for public realm, council officers say: “Within the city centre, there are parcels of underused land that need to be developed (or redeveloped) to help to create the vitality and excitement that could be expected of a growing city.

Renaissance:CMK represents a programme of projects that aims to create the vitality and excitement for an even stronger and more successful city centre that is fit for the challenges of the mid-21st century.

“Through investment in new employment, residential, retail and leisure development opportunities for underused land, Renaissance:CMK aims to create a prosperous city centre and capitalise on our position on the Cambridge-MK- Oxford corridor.”

The report, sponsored by Stuart Proffitt, the council’s director of environment and property, continues by adding that it is an important initiative for the renaissance project.

Financial details of the arrangement, and the council’s independent advice, are being kept away from public scrutiny, but the report points out that 80 out of 94 lost car parking spaces will be replaced by Santander. The basement of the new building will be a car park, the report says.

The report concludes that the move will “strengthen job opportunities via retention and creation of new jobs and this will further economic prosperity and growth for Milton Keynes.”