Row over bicycle mural in Milton Keynes continues with meeting planned for next week

    Councillors will be called on to chart a course between the arch defenders of the much-loved Bicycle Wall mural and others who want to get a new supermarket built as soon as possible.

    Milton Keynes Council has already given permission for a new Aldi, in the Stantonbury centre, in Purbeck, but the sticking point is over planning conditions that have to be met.

    The mural, created by ceramic artist John Watson, is made of about 1,200 tiles and shows students and bicycles from the opening of the next door Stantonbury School in the 1970s.

    One of the conditions is over the way the mural is taken down. Another is how the mural will be re-erected afterwards. There are concerns about both.

    Ian Michie, who chairs the city’s Public Arts Trust says all the conditions were set in public by the development control committee to be dealt with together, so its final destination could be known in advance.

    But Aldi wants to treat the mural’s future as a separate item, so they can get on with building the new store and opening it before Christmas.

    “The scheme for the re-erection of the mural remains under discussion, and will be subject to a separate submission and approval process,” says their construction management company.

    Now the issue is set to be discussed at next Thursday’s (June 18) meeting of the development control committee.

    Planners have recommended approval for the way that Aldi want to proceed.  They say that there have been lengthy discussions to agree the details of how the mural will be removed.

    But Tim Skelton, who chairs the MK Forum disagrees, saying he believes that the way Aldi wants to remove the Bicycle Wall “maximises the risk of damage and disfigurement to the mural once it is re-erected.”

    And David Stabler, a founder and trustee of the Public Arts Trust, said the conditions must be considered together.

    “The processes to dismantle Bicycle Wall cannot be considered independently of proposals for its re-erection, because one informs the other,” he says.

    He adds that to agree otherwise would be “contrary to the decision” taken by the committee at a previous meeting.

    But there are plenty of supporters of the idea of getting on with it, including Stantonbury Parish Council.

    Cllr Graham Davison, who chairs the parish council, writes in support of the plan.

    “This site has remained derelict for many years and the residents of this parish are desperate for a local shopping outlet,” he says.

    “Stantonbury International School are redeveloping their site and this store will add to the reinvigoration of this area, its development should not be delayed.”

    Another Aldi supporter says he would like to “see the wall taken down and moved elsewhere if possible, but if not the supermarket needs to be built.”

    Next week’s meeting will be held virtually and broadcast live on YouTube.

    Supporters and opponents can email before Monday, June 15, to speak or submit a comment in writing.

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