Supplementary memorandum by Milton Keynes
Council (NT 20(a))
1. What was the original objective of the
The primary purpose of designating Milton Keynes
new town was to provide homes and jobs for people mainly from
Greater London, with possibly some overspill from South Buckinghamshire.
The scale of in-migration envisaged was 150,000 people over about
20 years. The aim was to produce a balance of housing and employment
and avoid congestion.
The master plan (the Plan for Milton Keynes)
had six goals:
Opportunity and freedom of choice.
Easy movement and access.
To create an attractive city.
Public awareness and participation.
Efficient and imaginative use of
The structuring principles to achieve these
A grid road layout now largely completed.
A new city centre 80 per cent completednew
Development Framework adopted.
A system of linear Parks successfully
Overlapping catchments for local
facilities followed for local centres.
Segregated pedestrian and cycle routesredways
2. Which of those objectives do you think
have been met?
Milton Keynes has been very successful in providing
new homes and jobs, predominantly from Greater London but also
from many other parts of the UK. However, very few people have
moved to Milton Keynes from southern Buckinghamshire. Nearly 60,000
houses have been built since the start of new town development
in 1970, an average of around 1,900 per year. Annual completions
peaked at just under 3,000 in the 1980s but have been below 2,000
per year since the 1990s.
The aim of providing sufficient employment opportunities
to prevent Milton Keynes becoming a dormitory settlement has been
more than achieved. Indeed, Milton Keynes is now a net importer
of workers, with net in-commuting of around 10,840 and a surplus
of jobs over labour supply of around 8 per cent. More than 80,000
new jobs have been created in the City since 1967. Unemployment
at less than 2 per cent is below the national and regional level,
although there are some ward where the rate is considerably higher.
Congestion is not yet a significant problem
but it is clear that it will become so, if the city's current
dependence on the private car is not changed.
3. What do you consider to be its role in
the region/sub-region in the future?
Milton Keynes is now a significant regional
and sub-regional centre in its own right. It is recognised by
SEEDA as one of the economic growth engines of the South East
and is a net importer of labour from the surrounding area. Milton
Keynes' underlying economic buoyancy means that it is likely to
continue to grow. The long term future role of Milton Keynes is
being considered via the Milton Keynes and South Midlands Study,
currently being carried out by consultants for the Government
Offices for the South East, East Midlands and East of England
and the three Regional Planning Bodies. The study, which is investigating
the possibility of a further regional growth role, is due to report
in the autumn and will inform forthcoming reviews of Regional
4. To what extent is the original masterplan
for the town still used as a guiding principle for development
The original masterplan and New Town Act 7,1
approvals based on it are still significant in the remaining development
areas, particularly on the western and eastern flanks. EP owns
virtually all the remaining development land within the former
Designated Area and is able to authorise the details of development
proposals that are consistent with 7,1 approvals. In Central Milton
Keynes, the Council and EP have recently commissioned and adopted
a new Development Framework that proposes a significant increase
in the amount and density of development envisaged under the original
Development Corporation plans.
5. How well have the old and new parts of
your town been integrated? If they have not been well integrated,
what form does this take in physical/spatial terms and what are
the implications of this for the growth of the town?
The development of the new town has generally
integrated the villages and small towns within the Designated
Area fairly, sensitively and successfully. The integration of
the larger pre-existing settlements, notably Bletchley in the
south and Wolverton in the north, has been less successful. These
two settlements do not enjoy the same quality of physical and
social infrastructure as the new areas, which makes them less
attractive for new investment and their town centres have suffered
from competition from the new city centre. Both towns now need
physical and economic regeneration.
6. Has/can the town achieve the population
that was originally planned?
At designation, it was envisaged that Milton
Keynes would have a population of about 250,000, on completion
of development. This was later reduced to 200,000, mainly due
to the fall in average household size. The current population
is 175,270, and this is expected to rise to 200,000 by the completion
of planned development around 2008.
7. How does the age profile of your population
relate to the national average? Is this related to your being
a New Town? How do local agencies and strategies respond to that?
The Milton Keynes population age profile is
younger than that for England as a whole, with half the population
aged under 34 years old (the median age), (nationally, half of
the population is aged less than 38).
The number of children in their early years
is expected to increase from 12,740 in 2001 to 13,250 in the year
2011, an increase of 4 per cent. In contrast, the national projections
show a 5 per cent decrease between now and 2011 for the 0 to four
There will be an 8 per cent increase in the
number of children aged five to 16 between now and 2011, from
30,520 in 2001 to 33,020 in 2011. In contrast, the figures for
England show a 5 per cent drop in the number of school age children
over the same period.
Young adults are expected to increase from 19,220
in 2001 to 22,500 in 2011, an increase of 17 per cent. This percentage
increase is twice that expected in England as a whole over the
The number of people aged 25 to 34 is expected
to fall over the period 2001 to 2011 by around 2 per cent. For
England, a much larger decrease of 11 per cent is expected over
the same period.
A large increase of 22 per cent is expected
in the number of more mature adults, going from 60,880 in 2001
to 74,390 in 2011. A more modest increase is expected for this
age group nationally, which will rise by 4 per cent over the same
There are currently 22,380 people aged 60 and
over and this number is expected to increase by a massive 47 per
cent to 32,840 by 2011. The corresponding percentage increase
nationally is 15 per cent.
The atypical age profile is wholly due to Milton
Keynes being a new town. The growing number of school age children
and elderly people poses particular challenges in education and
social service/health planning, which are not always appreciated
by central government or their regional offices.
8. How strong is the demand for the existing
commercial land? Is there a demand for further commercial development
in the town? What is the effect of commercial development in the
town on other towns in the sub-regional economy?
The demand for commercial land remains strong,
particularly for flat sites close to the M1 motorway, suitable
for distribution warehousing and other large format uses. Such
sites are now in short supply and there is pressure to release
additional land outside the former Designated Area. Demand for
further commercial office development in Central Milton Keynes
is also strong.
It is sometimes claimed that the success of
Milton Keynes has prejudiced the prospects for regeneration in
places such as Luton and Bedford. However, few businesses have
moved to Milton Keynes from nearby townsmost have either
come from London or are inward investments from overseas, particularly
Japan, Germany and the USA. Neither Bedford nor Luton would be
able to offer the locational advantages necessary to attract these
9. Can you describe the sub-regional planning
arrangements that are in place to regulate/facilitate development?
Can you describe the strengths and weaknesses of the current approach?
Milton Keynes is on the edge of three regions:
the South East, the East Midlands and the East of England and
has transport and functional links with parts of Northamptonshire
and Bedfordshire that are at least as significant as those with
Aylesbury Vale (the only part of Buckinghamshire with which there
is any functional relationship). For these reasons, the conventional
sub-regional planning arrangement of a county structure plan is
unhelpful and on becoming a unitary authority, Milton Keynes Council
decided that in future it would produce a Milton Keynes structure
plan, rather than a joint structure plan with Buckinghamshire.
The forthcoming Milton Keynes and South Midlands
inter-regional study may recommend the production of specific
sub-regional guidance for the area around Milton Keynes, possibly
on the model of that for Thames Gateway (RPG9A). This could help
to overcome some of the difficulties of cross-regional co-ordination
inherent in present arrangements.
10. What is the regional/sub-regional role
of the shopping centre in your town? What investment is proposed
in the town centre in the next few years?
Central Milton Keynes is now a major regional
shopping centre, with well over 1.5 million square feet of high
quality durable goods floorspace in two developments: the centre:mk
and Midsummer Place, plus specialist shopping and leisure opportunities
in the Theatre District and Xscape developments.
Milton Keynes Council and EP have recently jointly
commissioned and adopted as supplementary planning guidance, a
new 30 year Development Framework for Central Milton Keynes. This
envisages a significant intensification of the amount and density
of development in the city centre, including more retail, commercial,
leisure and residential development.
In the immediate future, further substantial
retail investment is proposed by the joint owners of the centre:mk,
who intend to submit a planning application for a phased expansion
of the centre, later this year. The owners of the Theatre District
and Xscape developments also have plans for further development
and are in discussions with the Council and EP.
11. Can you give some numerical examples
of the problems that have arisen with clawback and covenants in
housing, amenity space and other land uses?
The effect of clawback is to inhibit change
and to fossilise land uses. This is contrary to the flexibility
and ability to evolve that characterised the planning and development
of Milton Keynes under the Development Corporation. Clawback acts
as a powerful disincentive to use urban land more intensively
and therefore works contrary to the Government's objective to
secure more brownfield redevelopment.
12. The Committee has been made aware that
in some cases clawback has made Right to Buy marginal or even
negative, in terms of receipts to the local authority. Has this
been the case in your authority, if so can you give a financial
example? What are the implications of this?
Clawback has had a significant impact on the
Council's ability to use right to buy receipts to improve the
inherited Development Corporation housing stock, much of which
requires heavy remedial investment.
13. Can you quantify the outstanding liabilities
facing your authority, firstly as a result of the package of assets
and liabilities transferred to the authority at the winding up
of the Development Corporation, and secondly as a result of design
and other issues relating to the New Town?
The segregated footpath and cycleway network
(``redways") represents a major maintenance liability for
which the Council receives no funding via the SSA. Much of the
inherited Development Corporation housing stock comprises "non
traditional" materials and designs that have not stood the
test of time and which now require massive remedial investment
to bring them up to an acceptable standard. Our estimates of the
amount we needed to spend are as follows:
10 years: £139.9 million;
20 years: £283.9 million;
30 years: £375.6 million.
These estimates cover renewal of, and improvements
to, existing components (internal and external) to all properties.
They also include an estimate of assumption of £30 million
for additional improvements such as environmental and structural
improvements. Any remodelling of stock, whole sale structural
and remedial works on non-traditionally built stock over and above
£30 million is additional to this. The total amount of expenditure
required to bring all properties to a decent standard with high
property standards is therefore likely to be in excess of the
totals shown above.
14. How does the financial value of the liabilities
caused as a result of your town being a New Town, compare to the
financial value of the remaining assets held by English Partnerships
in the town?
The Council estimates that it would need to
spend £140 million over the next 10 years to bring its housing
stock up to the Government's decency standard. The majority of
the problem of disrepair is in ex-Development Corporation housing.
EP still owns a large quantity of development land in Milton Keynes,
primarily on the Eastern and Western flanks and in Central Milton
Keynes. The estimated value of this land is in the region of £900
15. To what extent has English Partnerships
participated in regeneration partnerships in your town?
Until very recently, EP has not played a significant
role in the regeneration partnerships for the older towns in the
city and some of the earliest new town estates.
16. Many submissions have referred to the
inadequacy of the existing SSA to reflect the needs of the New
Towns. Can you detail those weaknesses and set out any suggestions
about how any successor to the SSA could be improved?
The principal problems with the current SSA
funding regime are:
that it is based on population figures
that are three years out of datein the case of Milton Keynes
where the population is rising rapidly, this means that the Council
has to provide services for several thousand people each year
for whom it receives no government funding; and
that it does not recognise some of
the unique cost liabilities inherent in the design of a New Townsuch
as the redway system and the extensive (and expensive) system
of urban grid roads, which are only subject to the national speed
limit and therefore treated as "rural roads" for SSA
grant calculation purposes.
17. Has the pattern of ownership and CNT/EP's
role had any implication in your ability to develop a housing
strategy for the area?
Although CNT/EP has supported the Council's
strategy of seeking 30 per cent of all housing completions as
affordable housing by making land available to registered social
landlords, there has been a change from providing this land on
a nil or deferred payment basis, to seeking a capital receipt.
This has increased the cost of providing affordable housing in
Milton Keynes and has contributed to a reduction in the amount
of affordable housing being produced.
There has also been a significant reduction
in the proportion of smaller, more affordable open market housing
being built on EP land over the last 10 years and an increase
in the proportion of larger, detached properties. A jointly commissioned
Housing Needs study has revealed a shortage of low cost market
and shared ownership housing. This is having an impact on the
ability of businesses to attract and retain key workers.
The fact that the great majority of housing
corporations in Milton Keynes are on EP land under New Town authorisations,
rather than through the normal planning system, reduces the Council's
ability to influence the type and size of housing to match local
housing needs. Furthermore, the use of New Town authorisations
means that the Council is unable to negotiate planning obligations
to further its housing and other corporate priorities.
18. Design and maintenance issues
Most of the housing condition problems in New
Town housing stock in Milton Keynes relate to the original design
and materials used. Many of the earliest New Town estates were
built to unproven designs using non-traditional materials. They
typically suffer from very poor thermal insulation and water penetration
through poorly constructed flat roofs. Remedying these inherent
defects by retro-fitting pitched roofs and external thermal cladding
is hugely expensive and accounts for the bulk of the upgrade cost
identified in the answer to question 14. Unmodified housing is
both more expensive to maintain and more expensive to run for
tenants, because of higher heating costs.
19. Crime and design
Milton Keynes was designed for unrestricted
car use and the grid road layout and comparatively low gross density
of development make public transport difficult to operate commercially,
with the result that the service is poor, especially at night.
Residents are therefore more reliant on cars than in conventional
towns of a similar size. This has probably contributed to a particular
problem of car-crime, notably in Central Milton Keynes, where
there are thousands of surface level car parking spaces. Until
recently, most of these spaces were free and largely unsupervised.
The Council has now introduced both an extensive CCTV system and
a pay and display regime. This has dramatically reduced the incident
of car-crime in Central Milton Keynes.
There is a perception that the Milton Keynes
redway network is prone to criminal activity, because of a lack
of direct supervision and the indirect routes followed by many
of the links. Although crime statistics do not support the view
that the redways are unsafe, the perception undoubtedly contributes
to their under-use, particularly at night.
20. LTP and car dependence
The Council's Sustainable Integrated Transport
Strategy (SITS) and Local Transport Plan both include targets
to achieve a modal shift away from the car towards more sustainable
travel. Action has included extending pay and display parking
in Central Milton Keynesby the end of 2002 the majority
of spaces will be charged. This not only provides a disincentive
to use the car but also produces a revenue stream that is being
used to support improvements to public transport, such as quality
bus routes, park and ride, better buses and improved passenger
The Council's new Local Plan and the recently
adopted Central Milton Keynes Development Framework both seek
to reduce car dependence through better urban design, higher densities
and more bus-friendly layouts. The Council is also producing new
maximum parking standards as supplementary planning guidance.
The Council and EP have, as part of the implementation
of the CMK Development Framework, recently commissioned consultants
to produce a new long-term public transport vision for Milton
Keynes, together with a realistic programme for funding and delivery.
21. Mobility issues
The Council has a well-established community
transport scheme providing a door-to-door service for elderly
and disabled residents unable to use conventional buses. The Council
also offers a concessionary fares scheme that is significantly
better than the statutory requirement.