Station Square, the gateway to MK, could become unrecognisable with plans to turn it into a major tourist trap.
The largely unused open space outside the rail station could house restaurants, shops and attractions similar to Granary Square at King Cross, say owners MKDP.
They are asking the public for ideas on how to turn the gateway into a destination and intend to launch a development plan next year.
Station Square famously appeared in the Superman 4 movie when MK was turned into downtown New York. Artist Richard DeDomenici did a reshoot to mark the 30th anniversary in 2016 and remarked that it was “weird how little it had changed in 30 years”. See pictures from when MK was turned into New York for Superman 4 here.
Meanwhile the buildings surrounding the station are also facing change - with a proposal to turn one landmark office block into 182 flats.
Station House, overlooking Station Square, is the subject of a planning application from insurance giants Zurich.
They are seeking change of use from commercial to residential for part of the ground floor and the whole of the first, second, third and fourth floors. No new parking provision is mentioned.
Alongside this, Santander is planning to build a new ‘digital hub’ for up to 6,000 staff next to the square.
Campaign group Xplain fears all the plans will be the death knell for the public space Station Square offers.
“We’ve seen it all before. Public bodies ask people what improvements they’d like and then use that wish list as an excuse to sell off precious open space, making millions in the process,” said spokesman Linda Inoki.
Milton Keynes Development Partnership head Charles Macdonald said: “We want Station Square to be a place that interests people and delivers what people expect from a modern city gateway.”
Almost four years ago, 89,000 people voted for CMK neighbourhood plan, which stated all open spaces, including Station Square, would be retained. Shortly afterwards in 2015 MK Council earmarked Station Square for infill housing of 97 dwellings. Xplain campaigned to get the proposal axed.
Last year the council once again suggested Station Square could be used for housing - this time 248 dwellings. Again it was scrapped after public protest.