A Conversation for Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, UK

Lack of taste is the councils forte!

Post 1

Guru Bear

Living in Stony Stratford (adopted by a desperate Milton Keynes to gove it some history) I have found the sense of pride in the local planning department to be a twisted sort of beast.

Recently we have been witness to the erection of an indoor ski-slope: a monster of a building; dismal and more suited to a theme park than a town. When Milton Keynes was built, its own by-laws stated that no building should be higher than a tree top. This building would only be shielded should we be able to grow redwoods, and to top it all they have placed it on the highest point in the area.

But, this local age of good taste does not end there. The new theatre district was advertised as being "Our Covent Garden". To that end, they built it out of greying concrete and invited only chain restaurants like TGI Fridays to move in. I assume that no local planner has ever been to covent garden with its vast array of independant, small and wonderful bistros, bars and brasseries.

Something tells me that the advanced rents and rates which large chains can and do pay is more important to the council than anything that the people might actually enjoy.

Guru Bear

Lack of taste is the councils forte!

Post 2


I agree entirely! I moved to the area (I live in Winslow when not at uni) from Sussex, and to say MK lacks any sense of taste is understating it wildly. Yes, everything is conveinient, but at the expense of being completely soul-destroying with it. Yes, there's a huge shopping centre, but how many genuinely interesting shops does it have? The road system may be easy to navagate, but it still all looks the same. Where is the interest?

The place has been designed with conveiniece in mind to the point of the aesthetic being thrown out of the window. It is a travesty that it has impinged already on so much beautiful countryside.

I asked my niece (who is 14 and has lived in the area all her life) what she thought the significant MK sights were, and she actually included the Bottledump roundabout..

MK has nothing (ok, except the ski-slope..) that can't be found anywhere else - what it does is lump all these not-at-all unique things together and call it a city (which it ISN'T!!). How happy I am when I can escape back to Sussex or when I'm on London!

Lack of taste is the councils forte!

Post 3


Oh come on now, I have to disagree...

We (my wife and I plus Son) moved to MK in 1991 and having returned from almost 10 Years in CapeTown and Botswana, and previously having lived in the heart of the Lake District, I admit that it came as a bit of a culture shock.
However, it's where the work was and we soon settled in. At first we lived in Newport Pagnell but are now true MK'ers living on one of the newer developments on the West side (near the local Nick no less!) Why did we move from our little Victorian terrace in what is a very nice old market town full of character? The bloody M1 motorway, you can hear the constant rush of tyre noise and truck engines at all times of the day and night and there is no escaping it! That’s why.
But here's the thing (as our U.S. cousins might say) - after a while you start to recognise just how much thought and hard work has gone into the planning of MK. Raise your eyes slightly from the admittedly over-fast roads and endless roundabouts and what do you see? Trees, bushes, flower beds etc. Leave the fast 'Duals' and enter one of the 'local centres' and you see houses that really are trying to be a little different from one another perhaps attempting to do away with the 'little boxes' image. The housing is usually centred around a few local shops, most areas have a local Pub, play areas for the kids, Redways that allow reasonably safe walking or cycling between settlements. And I haven't even mentioned the many lakes, rivers, canal side walks etc. The Parks and Gardens people do Stirling work, come on now, how many other large Towns or Cities can you think of with so much green space constantly kept clean and well maintained?
OK, so we would all prefer to live 'in the country' or maybe in a nice little cottage somewhere, rural idylls, call them what you will. But if you HAVE to live in a large concentrated area because of work or whatever, then I can think of a LOT of very much worse places. And to the person living in Stony Stratford... good for you, a very nice place, and as you say - it's been there a very long time. Original Cock and Bull story etc. etc. But be honest now, where do you work? Do you shop in the 'city' centre?
I admit that the new Snow Dome is a bit of a blot on the landscape especially as prior to this and the theatre building, the only real landmark from any distance was the MK cathedral church. But overall it serves a purpose. Something I noticed on returning to the UK after a fairly long absence is the readiness of us Brits to complain about things when in fact what we have is in many ways the envy of the world. Try doing your 'main' shopping trip fortnightly with a 120 mile round trip to get there and back and you will soon appreciate so many shops on your doorstep.
I'll tell you what really concerns me about MK... the Hospital is hardly any bigger now than it was Ten or Fifteen Years ago, yet the population has increased enormously in that time. Also, the Library could be getting a little bit on the small side for the size of the town. But, at least we have them.
Sorry to go on, but I am one of the strange people who can see the positives in life that far outweigh the perceived negatives.
Rant over.

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