The vote on the plan for Central Milton Keynes takes place on May 7, the same day as voters go to the polls in the General Election.

If approved, the plan will become part of the planning guidance for the city centre, ensuring that new developments are built in line with the wishes of local businesses and residents.

Now the challenge facing the plan’s authors the CMK Alliance is to make sure that businesses across the borough have read the proposal ahead of polling day.

The Business Neighbourhood Plan, put together by the CMK Alliance of residents and business leaders including Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses and The Parks Trust, requires new developments to respect the classic infrastructure, including the grid of boulevards, underpasses and covered walkways.

It also promotes economic development of the city centre with more diverse mixed-use developments, a major university, prime sites for “major institutions” and sites for sports, community and medical facilities.

The main shopping area will become the heart of the city, with more hotels and apartments, new retail including small independent shops and a covered market.

Crucially, the plan proposes more parking for business developments, the latest technology to highlight available parking spaces, a shuttle service between business, retail and parking areas and better public transport.

Central Milton Keynes Town Council chairman Dr Rebecca Kurth said: “We have to get parking and transport right, otherwise Central Milton Keynes cannot continue to grow. The plan offers a package of measures to address these issues.”

It is the UK’s first Business Neighbourhood Plan because it covers an area that is predominantly commercial. Two separate referenda will be held: one each for businesses and residents.

Planning Minister Brandon Lewis, speaking on a visit to Milton Keynes, described the plan as “adventurous and ambitious”.

He added: “People across the country will be looking at what happens in Milton Keynes. If the referendum is successful, the plan has weight in planning law so it has to be robust. A yes vote moves power into the hands of local people.”

CMK Alliance co-chairman Paul Hunt, managing director of retailer John Lewis, said the issue now was to encourage businesses and residents to study the plan ahead of the vote next month.

He said: “We have reached a very crucial stage as we near the referendum. It is important that the local community hears about and understands the plan.

"It will be challenging but we need to help people to understand what the plan is all about.”

Voting on the plan has been extended throughout the borough. A total 6,914 organisations are eligible to vote in the business referendum and 181,934 residents in the residential equivalent.

Dr Kurth said: “Central Milton Keynes has a distinctive identity. It is a brand that is built into the fabric of the boulevards and to create a dynamic city centre we have to boost that brand.”

For more on the referendum, visit www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/cmkbusinessneighbourhoodplan 

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