It took nearly 3 years, but on the 16th September 2015 Milton Keynes Council formally “made” the Wolverton Town Centre Neighbourhood Plan, adopting it as part of their Development Plan documents.
It will now be used to determine all planning applications within Wolverton Town Centre and on the Railway Works site.
We have only been successful in completing the plan because of the huge amount of time and energy committed by the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee, Town Council and Future Wolverton.
We would like to thank local people for not losing faith in the process or belief in the long-term outcomes, and for giving the Plan a 90% YES vote in the Referendum which took place on the 30th July 2015.
Why did we do it?
In January 2012 the local community began work on a Neighbourhood Plan for Wolverton Town Centre. Neighbourhood Plans were introduced by the Localism Act 2012, with the aim of giving local people greater ownership of plans and policies that affect their local area.
The aim of our plan was to kick-start” the redevelopment of the Agora site, whilst improving the wider Town Centre for business, residents and visitors. The plan was also intended to look at the broad principles that would guide any redevelopment of the Railway Works site should that happen at some point in the future.
During the course of developing the plan, two major planning applications for the Agora site and Railway Works have been submitted to Milton Keynes Council. Implementation of the plan has well and truly begun!
Key features of the Neighbourhood Plan
The plan has seven policies:
- Policy W1 – The Agora Site
- Policy W2 – Town Centre Development
- Policy W3 – The Railway Works site
- Policy W4 – Town Centre Diversity
- Policy W5 – Supporting street markets
- Policy W6 – Supporting and promoting small, independent trade
- Policy W7 – Shopfront design, signage and advertising and security
Policy W1 – The Agora Site
This policy paves the way for redevelopment of the Agora site. It specifies the sort of development the community would like to see on the Agora site, setting out the following key principles including:
- The reconnection of Radcliffe Street
- Provision of new public spaces to support community events
- Retention of views of St George’s Church
- A mix of retail and office accommodation of modern size and standard
Housing which compliments the current housing mix in Wolverton, with housing for older people and younger people a particular priority
- Small shops units suitable for the relocation of current businesses within the Agora and new businesses which may want to come to the town
- Retention of as many trees as possible
- Good design in keeping with the Victorian setting
High quality street furniture and materials
- Accessible to all
- Zero carbon where viable
Policy W2 – Town Centre Development
This policy specifies what will be required of development within the wider town centre (excluding the Agora site). It sets out some important principles that development within the town centre should achieve such as:
- Improving the movement of people, cyclists and buses within the town centre
- Improving the public realm – i.e. streets, pavements, signage and street furniture
- Enabling the creation of new green spaces
- Improving access to social, leisure and cultural facilities in the town centre
- Enhancing views of St George’s Church and other key buildings
- Incorporating flats above shops to provide additional housing for local people
- Providing parking on-street and in landscaped car parks
- Incorporating climate change measures into any new development
Policy W3 – The Railway Works site
This policy sets out the principles that should guide any redevelopment of any part of the railway works site, whilst being clear that existing employment uses should be supported. Some of the key principles for any redevelopment are:
- Improving linkages and movement by ensuring new pedestrian, cycle and road links on the site are well connected to the existing town centre
- Conserving the unique heritage of the site by opening up views (and access into and out of the site) through the wall along Stratford Road where possible, and preserving the historic buildings on the site through re-use where viable
- Contributing to public amenity by improving access to the Grand Union Canal
- Providing new development that re-uses historic buildings and provides a mix of new housing that compliments what is already on offer in Wolverton
- Delivering new infrastructure, such as school places for children that live in any new housing built on the site
Policy W4 – Town Centre Diversity
The policy seeks to protect the shopping function of Wolverton Town Centre by introducing a percentage based policy for different town centre uses. The percentage based policy will:
- Limit the amount of food and drink uses in any particular “frontage” within the town centre
- Ensure that non-retail uses contribute to town centre vibrancy
- Give the same level of protection within the planning system to “secondary” frontages within the town centre, such as the second half of Stratford Road which includes the Japenese Restaurant and Model shop
- Ensure that superstores that incorporate towncentre uses such as banking, pharmaceuticals, dry cleaners, opticians or health services, will only be supported if they can demonstrate that the new service will not have an unacceptable impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre.
Policy W5 – Supporting Street Markets
This policy supports the creation of a market in The Square. It sets out some of the improvements that would need to be made to The Square to make a market possible such as:
- Improvements to the public open space within The Square to make a suitable location for a permanent market
- Storage facilities for market stalls
- Parking provision for stall holders
- Rubbish and recycling facilities
Policy W6 – Supporting small, independent trade
This policy enables the provision of small shops (50 m sq gross) to support small and independent businesses. It does this by specifying two circumstances in which small shops can be provided:
- Major redevelopment in the town centre
- Conversion of existing larger shop units
The policy also specifies that a proportion of the small shops provided should have be “affordable” either by through a reduced rent, flexible lease or rent by turnover.
This is designed to support start-up businesses.
Policy W7 – Shopfront design, signage and advertisement and security
This policy is designed to conserve and enhance Victorian shopfronts in the town centre.
It does this by specifying the type of shopfront design that is appropriate to the Conservation Area, how signage should be designed and the sort of security shutters that are preferred.
It is hoped that grant monies will be secured to support shop owners to improve their shopfronts.
Guidance will also be produced by the Town Council and Milton Keynes Council once this policy is adopted.
For further information or to speak to someone about any aspect of the Neighbourhood Plan please contact Future Wolverton on 01908 321898 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.