Milton Keynes has potentially lost out on hundreds of millions of pounds in funding for future growth and the possible development tens of thousands of genuinely affordable homes, after the town’s two Tory MPs undermined and blocked a deal between Labour-led Milton Keynes Council and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Due to be announced in last week’s national budget, Milton Keynes Council has for months been working on a Housing Deal with MHCLG on the potential to grow Milton Keynes to a population of 500,000 by 2050, delivering around 100,000 new homes in the borough. The deal was based on the Government’s own National Infrastructure Commission’s report into the Oxford-MK-Cambridge Corridor, and MK Council’s own current Council Plan.
A deal was struck and was expected to be announced in the budget. The deal had a number of elements including:
- Immediate funding of £35m for local infrastructure;
- Funding to develop a locally-led long term spatial plan to 2050;
- Resources to develop an infrastructure and capacity plan for the delivery of growth, including £400k for a hospital capacity study;
- Consideration of re-instating of the MK Tariff worth hundreds of millions in infrastructure funding;
- Protection for villages from speculative development;
- An increase of tens thousands of genuinely affordable homes and new council housing;
- Development of a mass public transport system;
- Discussions regarding a new-generation, locally controlled Development Corporation.
Minster for Housing, Kit Malthouse MP, had written that MK Council’s plan to deliver 100,000 new homes, which is subject to an acceptable funding deal being struck with Government, was “exactly the sort of ambition which Government wants to see.”
Plans to include the announcement in the budget were dropped at the last minute and no official notice has been given to MK Council, yet an article by one of the local MPs appeared in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday claiming he had blocked the deal over concerns about local infrastructure.
Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of MK Council said;
“Milton Keynes Council is clear that we want to work with the Government to develop plans to grow Milton Keynes sustainably and deliver the council’s policy on growth, which ultimately is to enable the City to take a strong lead in controlling our own destiny and ensure the funding for the infrastructure needed to grow, but also to deliver benefits to our communities such as more affordable housing, green space, better quality jobs and a mass transport system for our local residents.”
“It is hugely worrying that two ill-informed Members of Parliament, including a government Minister, seem able to intervene in a local authority seeking to deliver established local council policy, for what appears to be self-serving party political reasons. It is not only a kick in the teeth for local democracy, it is a kick in the teeth for MK residents who desperately want to see more affordable housing, built in the best traditions of Milton Keynes.
By continuing to block this deal the local Conservative Party and MPs are playing games with the future of the city. We know why. They don’t want growth and choose to hide behind concerns about infrastructure, when it is clear this deal would have helped deliver what is needed. It would have also included developing plans to deliver the tens of thousands of genuinely affordable homes our city needs, and an improved public transport system. It is an obvious case of NIMBY-ism, but it seems to be “Not In Mark’s Back Yard,” given it was local MP Mark Lancaster who objected to the millions in funding for MK.”
“We want MK to grow in a well-planned and sustainable way, not in the piecemeal fashion that is the risk under current Government policy. The housing deal would be the way to plan growth for the long term, enable the proper infrastructure to be funded and developed and protect our villages from speculative development. As Leader that is what I’ll continue to fight for, and we will continue to work with Government to achieve that, if they are still serious about growth in this region.”