Rapid, Major Expansion of Milton Keynes "Blocked"

The following articles appeared recently in The Daily Telegraph and local publications:

In addition, this is a link to a petition demanding public approval of major MK expansion:

https://www.miltonkeynesconservatives.co.uk/campaigns/future-expansion-milton-keynes-give-us-say

Please refer to the post on 28th May 2018 

“Daily Telegraph"

HOUSING

Major Milton Keynes Budget growth plan blocked

By Edward Malnick, 

Whitehall Editor

PLANS for a major expansion of one of Britain’s best known “new towns” were dropped from the Budget at the eleventh hour after heated objections from a Government whip and a defence minister, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.

Iain Stewart and Mark Lancaster, the Tory MPs for Milton Keynes, opposed proposals for some 100,000 new homes on the outskirts of the town, over fears that an influx of residents could clog up its roads and overburden the local hospital.

Mr Lancaster told The Sunday Telegraph that while he was “in favour of planned development and sustainable growth” for Milton Keynes, the Government needed to be “very careful” about how it allocated large numbers of homes to the area.

The interventions by both MPs led to the plan being pulled from the Budget a week before it was delivered by Philip Hammond last Monday, after months of discussion with the Labour-led local council. Talks are now being resumed at a more gradual pace.

The row highlights the Government’s battle to gain local support for new developments as it attempts to meet Theresa May’s target of building 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.

250,000

The number of people Milton Keynes’ roads were designed to accommodate, according to a Conservative councillor

Milton Keynes was designated as a new town in 1967 to help to relieve pressure on London’s housing.

Ministers had hoped to announce a deal as part of the Government’s plans to build up to one million homes in the “corridor” between Cambridge and Oxford. Under the proposals, the council would have agreed to the building of around 100,000 new homes, in exchange for millions of pounds worth of central funding. Kit Malthouse, the housing minster, has described the scheme as “exactly the sort of ambition the Government wants to see”.

But Mr Stewart and Mr Lancaster, the Government’s “champion” of the corridor, told ministers they had not been properly consulted and raised fears the new homes could be “unsustainable” without the planned infrastructure to support a larger population.

Sources said the MPs feared that if the plans for Milton Keynes were pursued ahead of those for the surrounding areas, neighbouring local authorities could go on to strike their own deals for new housing which could put further pressure on the town’s roads and health services.

Alex Walker, the leader of the Conservative group on Milton Keynes council, said: “We only have one hospital and it was designed for Milton Keynes as planned. Our roads were designed for 250,000 people and we’ve already gone above that.” Mr Lancaster added: “People forget that two thirds of the unitary authority is actually rural by geography, and so we need to be cautious about just thinking of a continuous expansion of these urban developments.”

Mr Malthouse wrote to local authorities along the corridor in July inviting bids for new settlements.

Last week Pete Marland, the Labour leader of the council, told the Milton Keynes Citizen that the plan was intended to “deliver thousands of affordable homes for our local people and deliver improvements to public transport such as a mass transit system”.

A Ministry of Housing spokesman said: “We are clear that any deal must meet the needs of all concerned. That’s why we are continuing to work with Milton Keynes council and other local partners to help them realise their housing ambition.”