Modern Milton Keynes

The brief from the Ministry of Housing and Local Governments in 1967 called for a new town to accommodate an incoming population of 150,000 Londoners over a period of 20 years. This with the pre-existing population and further natural growth was expected to result eventually in a total population of about 250,000

The Designated Area The designated area was almost 9,000 hectares (22,000 acres) in North Buckinghamshire in the SE of England. It included the existing towns of Bletchley, Stony Stratford, Wolverton and New Bradwell, together with 13 villages and the brickfields to the south west of Bletchley. The population within the area at designation was approximately 40,000.

Newport Pagnell, at that time was a small town of approximately 6,300 inhabitants, lying immediately adjacent to the north eastern tip of Milton Keynes, separated from it by the M1 Motorway. Elsewhere other strong physical features were chosen, where possible to demarcate the boundaries of the city: the Bedford to Bletchley railway line in the south east, the River Great Ouse in the north west and short stretches of major roads such as the A5 and the A42 in the west and south west

Apart from existing settlements, the boundaries of the new city enclosed a predominately agricultural area crossed by only one major road, the A5.

The Master Plan The plan for Milton Keynes was prepared in 1970 by the corporation's consultants Llewelyn- Davies, Weeks, Forestier-Walker and Bor. This document, generally known as the Master Plan, sought to anticipate the forces which create cities and facilitate their healthy development. It recognised the close connection between transport systems and the arrangement of land uses and the need to consider these two basic elements together.

The Master Plan was not intended as a town map or a 'blue print' for the development of the city, but a strategic framework with considerable flexibility and capable of responding to changing needs.

Goals of the Plan Six goals were defined which have been the guiding principles for the development of Milton Keynes

  • Opportunity and freedom of choice

  • Easy movement and access

  • Balance and variety

  • The creation of an attractive city

  • Public awareness

  • Efficient and imaginative use of resources

The Master Plan identified a number of key structuring principles which have defined the character of the city and provided a framework for its development.

A grid pattern for main roads An irregular grid of dual carriageway roads for through traffic was planned to intersect at approximately 1km intervals serving a mix of land uses dispersed throughout the city.

The dispersal of homes and jobs allowed for an even distribution of traffic and the road system was designed to avoid the rush-hour congestion associated with typical radial town plans.

A further advantage was that through traffic could be kept out of the 'grid squares' formed by the city roads.

The City Centre Designation of Central Milton Keynes was an exception to the general principle of dispersed land uses.

Located close to the geographical centre of the city, CMK would contain a substantial shopping centre; cultural and leisure activities; housing and offices to serve the population of the new city and the surrounding area.

Linear Parks A system of linear parks was based on the river valleys. The linear parks were to be a major structuring element.

Overlapping Catchments Homes were not to be grouped as discrete, inward looking neighbourhood units, but were each to be part of overlapping catchment areas, according to the different functions and requirements of each household. Thus no area would be exclusive or self contained and maximum choice would be available to residents.

Activity Centres Local facilities, including shops, pubs, schools and bus stops were grouped at 'activity centres' located where main pedestrian routes crossed the mid point of each length of city road, giving easy access to facilities for residents.

Pedestrian Routes A safe and convenient movement system for pedestrians was a fundamental requirement. The system proposed would provide safe underpass or bridge crossings of city roads to make the system continuous and provide easy access to the 'activity centres' and other parts of the adjacent grid squares

Background to Plans for the city taken from "The Milton Keynes Planning Manual" published by Chesterton Consulting on behalf of the Development Corporation 1992

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