University is high on our agenda

Jul 04, 2007

MILTON Keynes Partnership Committee brings together Milton Keynes Council, English Partnerships, Local Strategic Partnership representatives from health, community and the business sectors and independent representation. Our role is to co-ordinate and action the delivery of growth for the city.

For Central Milton Keynes, this is set out by the Central Milton Keynes Framework, which was approved and adopted as policy in 2002 after an extensive period of community planning to find out what the people of Milton Keynes liked and disliked about CMK.

With tariff funding and revenue support from the government, last year alone Milton Keynes Partnership allocated more than £50 million to growth-related initiatives in Milton Keynes.

High on our priority list this year is developing higher education in the city with the University Centre Milton Keynes. This has included the acquisition of 200 Silbury Boulevard, Central Milton Keynes, by English Partnerships to provide a base for the University Centre and a commitment of £2.1 million of tariff monies from MKP towards the cost of the refurbishment.

The Open University will lead on bringing the building into active use and a formal governance structure will be put in place to include the appointment of a chief executive and a Strategic Development Board upon which MKPC, the council and Milton Keynes Economy and Learning Partnership will be represented together with the academic partners. Additional funding will be sought from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

In terms of funding for other initiatives, to date almost £35 million of tariff funding has been committed to a wide range of projects including supporting local community schemes, road infrastructure improvements at Junctions 13 and 14 of the M1 and on the A5. Also, there are new facilities at Milton Keynes College and improvements to the hospital campus, which will enable land to be released for expansion.

As well as physical improvements to Milton Keynes’ infrastructure, we are working hard to improve communication networks in the city.

With support from English Partnerships’ information technology department, work is beginning on a new initiative to investigate how best to bring fibre optic cabling to the expansion areas. The report to be commissioned will provide recommendations both on strategic delivery over the next 25 years and the improvement of broadband delivery within existing residential areas and commercial and retail units in Central Milton Keynes.

We will be looking at how best to link this with parallel initiatives being developed via the council and MKELP in relation to existing rather than new communities. The importance of improved broadband links is crucial to reinforcing Central Milton Keynes as a very attractive investment opportunity – as a place to do business in, not just a location to do business from.

We are excited that the next phase of development in Central Milton Keynes is now opening with the first retail units in the Hub and look forward to the completion of the first new offices and apartments, scheduled for late June or early July.

There are other exciting office developments under way in Central Milton Keynes and elsewhere in the city. At the western end of Midsummer Boulevard (B3.2N) planning consent for an office scheme amounting to 18,600 square metres has now been agreed with a start on site expected later this month. At Knowlhill, works have commenced on site for new employment space with a total of 11,700 sq m. This will attract approximately 1,600 jobs, according to English Partnerships’ employment density figures.

Finally I can report that the investment arm of MKP, Invest Milton Keynes, has had a very successful second year with 58 investment successes recorded by the team. Of these, 29 were inward investors from outside the city; the remainder resulted from the expansion of existing local companies established in Milton Keynes.

Of the new investors, 13 are international investors from eight different countries, including China and India. These investment successes have contributed a total of 2,805 jobs to the Milton Keynes economy. A good start to 2007-8 has been made, with 28 enquiries for land and premises and nine investment successes recorded for April.

Over the next 30 years, Milton Keynes will continue to grow and change. It is already the most successful new city in the UK and a robust regional business centre with strong international links.

The most successful cities across the world have a first-class road infrastructure, boast a policy to integrate a green environment into city life, share a young, dynamic population and have a bustling city centre environment. Milton Keynes already shares many of these qualities.

To echo Cllr Isobel McCall (Business MK, May 2007), we need to adapt and embrace change in order for Milton Keynes to build on its reputation as a great place to live and work. Not all changes will be agreeable to everyone, however we are here to consult with the public and businesses on developments including the environment and green space, answer questions and welcome discussion on not only people’s concerns but also the positive impact that growth will have on the people and businesses of Milton Keynes.

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