The Government Minister for Planning, the Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP, visited Milton Keynes on Thursday to mark the launch of the CMK Business Neighbourhood Plan referendums. The event, held in the Catapult Transport Innovation Centre inside CMK’s ‘Pinnacle’ building, was attended by a range of local media, including BBC Look East television, along with representatives of the CMK Town Council, local businesses, Milton Keynes Council and other local organisations.
The event highlighted the local and national significance of the CMK Business Neighbourhood Plan. If adopted, it will act as a template for future development in CMK, replacing older documents prepared by Milton Keynes Council with a new one prepared by local people and businesses. It includes a range of policies, including supporting a major university in CMK, building new community and sports facilities, introducing a new shuttle service and creating a new civic square in the heart of the city centre, all alongside a core policy of retaining the successful infrastructure design that has been such an asset to CMK for the last fifty years. Dr Rebecca Kurth, chair of CMK Town Council, says, “It’s a pioneering plan and reflects the ‘can do’ attitude of Milton Keynes. Whilst many town centres across Britain are in decline, CMK is a real engine for prosperity.”
One significant feature of the plan is that it will be the UK’s first business neighbourhood plan, reflecting the primarily commercial nature of CMK. Businesses and residents throughout the whole borough of Milton Keynes will participate in two separate referendums. This makes it by far the largest vote on a neighbourhood plan to date, another first for Milton Keynes and why other towns and cities across the country will be watching Milton Keynes closely on election day.
With the referendum on the new neighbourhood plan only two months away, the minister’s visit represented a major step towards increasing the public awareness of the neighbourhood plan and what it proposes. The plan has already been though several years’ worth of public consultation and revisions. “We’ve tried hard to get the balance right between the need for growth and change, and the need to keep CMK special, and true to itself,” says Paul Hunt, co-chair of the CMK Alliance and Head of Branch of John Lewis in the city centre. “It’s been refreshing to have a frank dialogue between business and residents. We all agree that CMK has a unique appeal, and we want to build on its strengths while also helping to generate the next wave of growth.”
For more information on the upcoming referendum and further details on the plan and its policies, please see this page.