A plan to redevelop part of the shopping town centre of Bletchley has caused uproar among businesses and residents.
Now council planning officers have recommended approval for the demolition of the 0.22 hectare site at 55-65 Queensway, which includes a popular bargain store.
If Milton Keynes Council’s Development Control Committee this Thursday (August 1) agrees to the Malhi Developments application, it will see the construction of 48 flats, and six small shops. But it would also mean the loss of the large shop unit currently occupied by Home Bargains.
Businesses and residents say the main issue is parking, which the council’s normal rules would need 151 parking spaces. The plans provide for just 33 spaces.
Two of the businesses currently at the address, DW Roberts Opticians, and the owners of Cash Converters, have both objected to the application. The opticians say it will “overwhelm the available parking in the area.”
And John Murphy, of Cash Converters, say they had only been made aware of the application after the planning notice was spotted on a lamppost by a member of staff.
Mr Murphy adds that the plans would have a “disastrous” impact on the town centre “which has clearly not been considered.”
Allan Nall, the chairman of Bletchley & Fenny Stratford Business Association, said: “There is already inadequate parking in Bletchley town centre. This problem must be addressed before allowing piecemeal development proposals.
“I do not believe the planners and highways engineers will be fooled into believing for one minute that this development will not cause major daytime parking problems for Bletchley town centre.”
And on the impact on Home Bargains, he added that it is a “very busy shop which queues at most of the time which demostrates its popularity to the shoppers of Bletchley.”
Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Town Council has also objected, saying there has been no retail impact assessment and not enough parking had been provided.
The agents for the scheme are Wakelin Associates, of Kings Langley, in Hertfordshire. They say the flats, being near good public transport links, would attract people who are “less dependent on travelling by private car”.
They say: “The site offers an opportunity for redevelopment within the urban area. It will provide the useful addition to the housing stock in this sustainable location, the aims of which are in part to regenerate Bletchley town centre.”
They add that a number of new schemes have been granted consent, including a nine-storey block adjoining the car park area to the west, within 250 m of the site.
MK Council senior planning officer Elizabeth Verdegem says in her report to the committee that the council’s highways expers say the parking amounts are acceptable.
The report addes that: “The applicant has provided justification to suggest that a lower proportion of parking would be appropriate on this site, it is considered that the amount of parking proposed, despite the shortfall in relation to the parking standards in this location is acceptable.
“This proposal represents a high quality mixed use scheme for Bletchley town centre. The proposal represents an appropriate balance between high density development, to make an effective use of land, and the provision of a suitable amount of parking and appropriate access to the site.”
The developer has also agreed to make a section 106 contribution to the council of £562,705.76 to pay for various items, including school provision, local parks, and passenger transport.
The issue will be decided by elected councillors at a meeting of the MK Council Development Control Committee, on Thursday, August 1. The meeting starts at 7pm at the Civic Offices, 1 Saxon Gate East, Milton Keynes, MK9 3EJ. It is open to the public.