Primark Objection by MK Forum

Photo courtesy Anne-Louise Mellor

Photo courtesy Anne-Louise Mellor

We are not opposed to more retailing coming to CMK, but are opposed to this application. We support the submission from CMK Town Council (attached) which covers the following key issues:

  • the adverse impact on the transport network of the removal of the south part of the Secklow Gate bridge;
  • the justification of the removal based upon flawed and increasingly outdated planning policy;
  • the creation of unsafe pedestrian crossings at grade at the junction of Secklow Gate and Midsummer Boulevard;
  • the adverse impact on the relocated open air market;
  • the substantial harm caused to the Grade II listed building;
  • the destruction of over 60 trees, especially the London Planes thus breaking the formal avenue;
  • the lack of serious consideration to alternative sites; and
  • the failure to address a long term development strategy to the south of thecentre:mk.

Understanding MK: the open-ended grid

  • The design of the development should be based upon a careful analysis of the listedbuilding and its setting. This has not been carried out and thus the proposed design is
    fundamentally flawed.
  • Milton Keynes has been developed as an open ended grid, with through traffic
    contained on tree-lined grid roads that avoid settlements and connect with the
    surrounding road network.
  • This contrasts with the traditional city structure that is radial, with roads leading to a
    central point. It reflects an open, democratic view of society, rather than a
    hierarchical view with a dominant centre.

Understanding CMK: democratic not hierarchical

  • Central Milton Keynes adopts a similar relationship to the city-wide grid: designed as an open grid, it links the network within the centre to the city network, with buildings contained within the grid rather than straddling it.
  • It contrasts with nineteenth century town planning where boulevards lead to significant points where buildings or monuments close the vista. In CMK, the vista remains open, the Boulevards are not terminated and no building dominates the grid.
  • There are two exceptions. As a crude departure from the CMK design strategy, Midsummer Place was allowed to cross the Boulevard, giving it a significance it does not merit. And the Station unexpectedly closes the west end of Midsummer Boulevard. This replaces earlier designs that showed a low-key building on the edge of the grid, that did not make a significant design statement. The creation of a book end to CMK at the railway line to the west, with boulevards opening out into Campbell Park and the belvedere with views of Bedfordshire beyond is however a successful design strategy.

Understanding thecentre:mk: an outward looking system

  • The shopping building (now thecentre:mk) is a sophisticated demonstration of the way in which a large building can be integrated into the open-ended grid.
  • There is no dominant, symmetrical main entrance closing a vista. Instead, the network of pedestrian routes leads across the Boulevards under porte-cocheres into modest entrances into the building. The high arcades are only revealed once the outer zone of shops has been passed, and in turn, the full length of the building interior becomes apparent.
  • The design is open and democratic, the high street of a modern, socially inclusive new city. It is at the heart of a network of pedestrian routes that lead outward across the city centre, which should be open to all, at any time of day or night.
  • And, as with the roads that serve CMK and the wider city, the vista at the end of the arcades (as originally designed) remains open, the system can be extended, access for all remains open. (The early phases of the CBX hint at the way in which arcades could extend down the hill to the Station, a public sheltered route from one end of the core of CMK to the other.)
  • The designers of the later west end of thecentre:mk repeated the architectural
    language, but did not understand the design philosophy; Midsummer Place is located
    in the most significant place in the CMK grid at the top of the hill rising from the Station
    and thus undermines the CMK structure. The Secklow Gate proposals likewise are

Full submission on MK Council’s plannning portal