* indicates required

Business Neighbourhood Plan strikes double gold at national level

The Business Neighbourhood Plan for Central Milton Keynes, led by CMK Town Council, won the awards for neighbourhood planning and for stakeholder engagement.

The announcement came hours after Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government,  said he would call in the controversial planning application to develop intu Milton Keynes shopping centre for review by public inquiry under an independent Planning Inspector.

The CMK plan, described by the judges as a “complex business-led centre plan without precedent”, became the flagship of the government’s localism policy when it won 90,000 votes of approval at the public referendum in May.

It is the first time this type of Neighbourhood Plan for an entire city centre has been produced by local people rather than the local authority.

The referendum result means that the plan is adopted by Milton Keynes Council and ensures that new developments are built in line with the needs and wishes of local people in line with the original vsion for the city.

Town council chair Dr Rebecca Kurth said: “The Awards are a great vote of confidence in the future of Milton Keynes, a national growth point. Our Business Neighbourhood Plan is a first, and so is the scale of public votes cast in its favour. It gives clarity to investors and sends out a strong message that CMK welcomes sustainable development.”

Mr Clark has now called in the intu Milton Keynes planning application, granted by Milton Keynes Council in September, after lobbying by stakeholders incuding CMK Town Council.

Dr Kurth said: “We have to help our local council understand that the plan is now their Business Neighbourhood Plan and, as a statutory document, they must take it very seriously.

“Pushing this Plan aside has demoralised other communities that have put their faith in Neighbourhood Planning. We are very relieved that we will now have the opportunity to make our case before an independent inspector.” 

Town planner David Lock, CBE, among the business representatives who volunteered to serve on the steering group for the Plan, said: “Milton Keynes is famous for innovation and we are proud that this pioneering type of neighbourhood plan has won recognition from industry experts.

“Well prepared Neighbourhood Plans are a clear expression of local preference that can bring real benefits to communities everywhere, which is why it is so important for local planning authorities to treat them with respect.

“In this case, Intu knew they were confronting this Plan and must now account for themselves properly. Local stakeholders will now have a chance to be heard.

“It is so sad – it did not need to be like this . Intu has other ways of investing in their property that everyone would welcome. They need to study our city centre and what makes it world famous and why local people want that spirit kept strong."

The CMK Business Neighbourhood Development Plan supports the delivery of 5,000 new homes and major new retail, office and educational development as well as community facilities and transport links.

The Plan protects the city centre’s famous public infrastructure of tree-lined boulevards and public spaces that has made Milton Keynes an appealing destination for national and international house-hunters, businesses and investors since the 1970s. 

The Plan passed two borough-wide referendums in May. More than 89,000 residents voted in favour (84% of the votes cast) and 356 businesses (88% of the votes). It was adopted by Milton Keynes Council on June 10.