Primark development withdrawn by thecentre:mk

An artist's impression of how the Primark development would have looked
An artist's impression of how the Primark development would have looked

PLANS by thecentre:mk to build a flagship Primark store on the market have been withdrawn.

The controversial proposal was due to be discussed at the Development Control Committee tonight (Thursday) but has been withdrawn at the 11th hour.

In July last year, Primark announced they would open a flagship store in Milton Keynes in a new, purpose-built facility on Secklow Gate.

Protesters against the development made their voices heard to Milton Keynes Council, saying that saving the market and Secklow Gate bridge was of greater importance to the heritage of Milton Keynes than a new Primark store.

As the arguments rumbled on into the New Year, the Primark plans were recommended for refusal by council officers, deemed a ‘major advance’ by protesters. However, it was widely tipped that the plans were likely to be given the nod by Development Control Committee.

On Tuesday night, thecentre:mk withdrew plans to relocate the market ahead of tonight’s (Thursday) meeting.

A statement from thecentre:mk read: “The owners of thecentre:mk have this morning withdrawn the remaining planning application and Listed Building Consent that were due to be considered by councillors on Thursday evening.

“Close discussions between the owners and local stakeholders will now continue.”

Councillor Paul Williams, ward councillor for Campbell Park siad: ““This is a victory for common sense. We all want to see investment in the city centre but not at the expense of jobs or the original vision for Milton Keynes. I’m pleased that the proposals have been withdrawn and hope that the applicant will now think about a more suitable plan. Round one to the market traders and local residents, but we need to remain vigilant.”

Emily Darlington, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Milton Keynes North, who recently met with market traders opposed to the plans said: “Well done to everyone involved in the campaign so far. It looks like the weight of over 16,000 signatures supporting the market made the developer think again.

“I want the city centre to thrive but any changes must add to the centre:MK not damage our historic roots or the market.”

Councillor Rebecca Kurth, chairman of Central Milton Keynes Town Council said: “The scheme just wasn’t right. We aren’t against Primark, we’ve been asking for Primark for a long time, but that just wasn’t the right plan.

“We would welcome Primark back if the plans were better for everyone.

“For the market and the traders, it means that businesses and livlihoods can continue.”

Theo Chalmers, chairman of Urban Eden, said: “Following the decision to withdraw their application for the new market site, the owners of thecentre:MK have just withdrawn their application to demolish Secklow Gate. Naturally I am thrilled.

“However I have little doubt it will return modified to avoid some of the more egregious reasons why it should be refused.”

Linda Inoki, chairman of Xplain, said: “This is a real victory for the people of Milton Keynes.

“Xplain is not against development, but against the wrong developments which impede the way this city was designed.

“Everyone could see that from the start, this wasn’t going to work.

“We would be more than happy for thecentre:mk to come back with a better development, but the location has to be right. I hope we can all learn from this.”

Milton Keynes Council confirmed the news on their website.

A spokesman said: “Today Milton Keynes Council received official confirmation from the agents acting on behalf of thecentre:mk that the proposals to build a new two storey store, with associated works including the removal of Secklow Gate Bridge, have been withdrawn.

“This follows confirmation earlier this week of thecentre:mk’s withdrawal of the ‘alternative market site’ element of the proposals.”