Adopted on the 20th March, Plan:MK is the strategic local plan document to shape growth of the borough for a minimum of 26,500 homes, almost a year after submission. Planning Partner, Mike Jones explains the key areas of the plan.
The Plan indicates Milton Keynes Council’s commitment to realising the city’s potential at the centre of the Oxford to Cambridge growth corridor, expanding the population of the city to 500,000 by 2050.
Very much an interim plan, Plan:MK bridges the gap between the ongoing delivery of objectively assessed housing need and the transformational level of growth needed to fulfil the longer-term aspirations for the city Plan:MK has an imposed requirement for an early review, to be completed before 2022.
Plan:MK has concentrated on development in and around the existing urban area with increased development in Central Milton Keynes and growth south and east of the city, crossing the M1 for the first time. While the strategy emphasises the role of Neighbourhood Plans in allocating sites and supporting delivery of around 1,000 homes in rural towns and villages, the strategy will not deliver the level or pace of growth expected in the area.
Having doubled in size since 1981, a rate of expansion nearly five times faster than the English average, it seems that further increase to the borough will be a challenge.
The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) report, ‘Partnering for Prosperity’: A new deal for the Cambridge- Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc’ (November 2017), sets out recommendations for the wider growth corridor, which will need to be considered in the future development strategy for the plan’s review.
MK 2050 Futures Strategic Growth Study
The review will be informed by the MK 2050 Futures Strategic Growth Study, currently being prepared in partnership with South Northamptonshire and Aylesbury Vale District Councils and ongoing talks with neighbouring authorities.
This study, which is expected to be published for consultation later in 2019, assesses how growth to a population of 500,000 could be accommodated in the area and looking at locations outside the borough into which the city could grow. Alongside this, the study looks at required infrastructure to support transformational growth, both strategic and local, and mechanisms to support delivery, including scoping a route map and costing for rapid transit system.
Supporting future growth in the area is likely to come from a deal with government, providing funding and flexibilities to support the planning and delivery of development. These discussions have slowed after an initial announcement of a deal was pulled just before the 2018 Budget.
The Budget announcement referred to such a growth deal for the delivery of a long-term strategic plan to deliver circa 100,000 new homes in the borough by 2050 alongside £35m funding for local infrastructure. The deal was centred on the National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) recommendations for the Oxford Cambridge Corridor.
Discussions are ongoing with the Housing Minister regarding an alternative deal to reach a compromise to support the 2050 vision. To date nearly all of LPAs in the central area have signed up to a Central Area Growth Board, constituted as a joint committee, to coordinate cross-boundary working within the central area and increase the extent of future collaboration on joint strategic housing and infrastructure requirements.