Submission to Parliamentary Urban Affairs
Sub-Committee by Milton Keynes Council
Milton Keynes is larger, later and
at lower gross density than other UK new towns.
The visual impact of the town is
very strong, especially the landscape and road system.
Its dependence on a grid road system
is not found in other new towns.
Its low density and grid systems
produces poor bus services.
A dispersed landuse pattern further
undermines bus viability.
Milton Keynes' road and landscape
layout is illegible and people get lost.
The city's landscaping was often
severely overplanted, now needing radical interventions.
The city centre (Central Milton Keynes)
and local centres were generally commercially focused, with little
emphasis on quality of citizens` lives, inclusion, diversity,
Central Milton Keynes is only now
benefiting from recent proposals for remodelling and diversification.
Interventions by Milton Keynes Development
Corporation in Milton Keynes' older towns were few and generally
Experiments in non-traditional building
types left a legacy of mistakes, particularly in public housing.
Urgency to build rapidly produced
expedient quick-fixes that have not lasted, or have needed remediation.
A2. URBAN MANAGEMENT
An expensive infrastructure that
looks nice but costs.
Extensive 70s infrastructure is now
prone to synchronised obsolescence.
Milton Keynes older towns doubly
disadvantagedaccelerated obsolescence particularly in Bletchley.
The ongoing cost of running Milton
Keynes was not part of the design, with many unfunded and underfunded
The unsupervised network of redways,
indirect and under-used, encourage a fear of crime now being tackled
with Thames Valley Police.
The city centre is not geared up
to 21st century and 18 to 24 hour activities now becoming normal.
Skewed demographic patterns, both
very young and very old populations, put unusual pressures on
Service provision is volatile, having
to stretch across declining older areas and rapidly developing
Milton Keynes currently runs one
of the largest new school-building programmes of any LEA.
Facilities are no longer provided
up-front by a well-funded Milton Keynes Development Corporation
(community development, burials, waste).
Planning gain on an estimated £100
million disposals by English Partnerships each year is not available
to subsidise new facilities.
Under the current Standard Spending
Assessment regime, the data lag results in "lost" funding
for 6,000 residents, equivalent to £3.6 million per annum.
Milton Keynes is very car friendly
great if you have one, or two (25 per cent of households did not
There is a disincentive to use public
transport, which therefore has compound decline.
Milton Keynes' city centre (and elsewhere)
promotes expectation of free parking.
Those without a car face compound
disadvantage (40 per cent of households in some areas).
Villages subsumed into Milton Keynes
have generally done well, and represent delightful fragments of
Towns subsumed into Milton Keynes
fare much worse, with accelerated obsolescence.
Only Stony Stratford, medieval coaching
town, has found a niche.
Intervention into older towns was
limited and often destructive, typically in Bletchley and Wolverton.
Milton Keynes thus simultaneously
faces pressures for new town development and traditional regeneration.
Other new towns have received more
investment to older areas (Central Lancashire; Peterborough; Warrington)
than Milton Keynes.
EP has only latterly become interested
in helping renaissance and regeneration in Milton Keynes Bletchley,
Wolverton, Central Milton Keynes.
A5. SOCIAL INCLUSION
New Towns are traditionally the home
of New Town Blues, exacerbated by the very social mobility that
represents their economic strength. Family stability is shakier
and support networks are weaker than those in traditional communities.
Minority ethnic communities (such
as Milton Keynes' Bengladeshi community) tend to live in older
areas with least amenities.
There is significant relative disadvantage
in some newer estates, despite low unemployment.
There is a continuing need for more
affordable homes in the borough, in the light of steeply rising
There is concern at demographic "churn"
in public housing areas, evidenced by school enrolments.
There are increasing problems in
private rented areas, especially pressures to integrate asylum
Mobility poverty is significant in
some areas (up to 40 per cent).
Milton Keynes provides strong energy
standards in new areas, but there is energy poverty in older homes.
A6. IMPACT OF
There is no coherent democratic steer
of MK development.
Milton Keynes has seen a recent slow-down
of housing completions, more noticeable in English Partnerships-owned
The local planning authority does
not receive fees on much English Partnerships' generated development,
with consequent reduction in support for planning services, and
availability of planning gain under section 106 Agreements.
The local authority (LA) has very
few assets to redeploy and make work more effectively.
English Partnerships' clawback denies
the LA development value, or even ability to recycle receipts
from Right to Buy sales.
The LA has responsibility to deliver
housing numbers, but English Partnerships has the control of land
release to achieve them.
English Partnerships' clawback also
penalises Registered Social Landlords, as additional to Housing
The LA, though it may be consulted,
has no control over major developments that might have impact
(eg prominent new buildings; predominance to users putting HGVs
onto Milton Keynes' roads).
The LA has enforcement responsibility
for development authorisations over which it has no control or
influence and which generally carry no planning conditions.
Land-banking of reserve sites prevents
their timely use.
English Partnerships' ransom strips
provide a veto to further development outside the designated area.
English Partnerships currently have
assets in virgin land; serviced land; clawback on disposed sites;
covenants on disposed sites.
All city centre highways are in English
Assets have been transferred, but
only to meet obligations and subject to clawback.
Some transferred assets prove to
Time-expired commuted sums no longer
help to mitigate liabilities.
Some assets have had to be sold back
to English Partnerships to generate receipts and reduce clawback.
Transfer of English Partnerships'
assets would unlock tremendous value and allow costs and values
(from growth) to be offset.
Transfer would provide major empowerment
of the local democratic process.
Transfer would also represent a major
LA capacity challenge that would need to be addressed.
Transfer would provide a major opportunity
for local partnership.
English Partnerships manage most
What is built is often to high sustainability
standards, energy specifications, etc.
More efficient use of land is now
flowing from increasing densities.
English Partnerships have until recently
not recognised the needs for regeneration, and have yet to fund
Generally, in the absence of LA resources,
little regeneration is done.
Traditional economies have collapsed
bricks in Bletchley; rail in Wolverton.
The Regional Development Agency has
been quicker on the uptake than English Partnerships, though still
In view of the regional economy,
Milton Keynes has been eligible for little if any selective regeneration
There is now the prospect of some
application of English Partnerships' value from Central Milton
Keynes, provided English Partnerships' returns can be assured.
A9. MILTON KEYNES
Milton Keynes is the centre of a
strong and growing sub-regional economy, largely driven by the
success of new town development.
Generally Milton Keynes has a balanced
economy with little sectoral preponderance.
Milton Keynes is also at the margins
of three regions, with consequential communication and co-ordination
SEEDA, the South East England Development
Agency, identifies Milton Keynes in their Regional Economic Strategy
as a powerhouse of the region; other neighbours are more cautious.
Business and Economic Partners see
the economic catchment, not the administrative MKEP covers North
Buckinghamshire; Bedford carries an MK postcode; Milton Keynes
Council is collaborating with Northants on integrated service
Milton Keynes can be the economic
nexus across the admnistrative boundaries of three regions.
Milton Keynes is central to the meeting
of housing needs in the South-east.
Milton Keynes is the key both to
NS and EW connections, within the Milton Keynes & South Midlands
planning study, and the Oxford to Cambridge Economic Arc.
A10. IMPACT OF
English Partnerships is a creature
of Government policy but is no longer the key to urgent completion
of the New Town.
Milton Keynes is essentially a creature
of green field development restricting this (eg through Planning
Policy Guidance 3) effectively removes Milton Keynes' potential
to meet regional housing targets.
Milton Keynes' housing performance
is slipping, largely due to English Partnerships' performance.
Milton Keynes needs greater planning
flexibility to deliver housing targets.
Government funding regimes mean that
the number of affordable homes has slumped in recent years, leading
to significant local unmet need.
Regeneration policy targets the most
deprived LAs and overlooks many of the more localised or dispersed
examples of deprivation prevalent in Milton Keynes.
In an under-resourced world, Milton
Keynes needs resources to target its most deprived.
Despite low registered unemployment,
Milton Keynes needs to be able to target the low-paid, especially
those disadvantaged by poor accessibility.