Way is cleared for Santander's “exciting” new digital hub base in Milton Keynes

A council chief has cleared the last obstacle to allow the biggest employer in Milton Keynes to build its big new headquarters on a city centre car park.

Santander was given planning approval earlier this year for its new digital hub which is set to be a base for 6,000 employees on the site off Grafton Gate, close to MK’s central railway station.

An artist's impression of Santander's digital hub

An artist's impression of Santander's digital hub

On Tuesday (Oct 29) a top councillor decided to go ahead with a 999-year lease for the international banking giant. In a complex deal, the council and its tenant on 1.17 acres, The Parks Trust, will receive payment on one slab of the land.

The financial details remain hidden from public scrutiny, after the press and public were excluded from hearing those aspects of the deal under the Local Government Act 1972.

A Delegated Decisions meeting at MK Council was told that another 1.78 acre slice of the land is owned by Milton Keynes Development Partnership (MKDP), and they have agreed a deal for their part of the site. Santander itself owns another 2.8-acre part of the site.

Before the Local Democracy Reporting Service was excluded from deliberations, the deal was described as “a big deal for MK.”

Council officer Ed Palmieri said: “This is a good news story for MK, a very important development for the bank’s employees and for visitors to the city.”

The eight-storey Digital Hub will provide space for business and public use as well as 5,000 workstations spread across 398,000 sq. ft. of office space in four blocks.

The council believes it will be a “landmark building” in the same vein as the Network Rail HQ which sits very close by.

The decision to go ahead was taken by Cllr Martin Gowans (Lab, Bletchley East), the council’s Cabinet member for planning and transport.

The meeting was told that the new building will temporarily take away 94 pay and display car park spaces, 80 of which will be re-provided when the hub building is built.

But, the meeting was told that the council believes the new building will be a better use of the land than a car park. The council has a policy of making better use of the land that it owns across the city.