Land Access - Middleton
Friday 22nd January 2021:
Following a leaflet, which you received from the parish council at the back end of last year, we would like to keep you updated on where we are with this topic.
We had anticipated that we would be able to hold a virtual meeting in January to give you the key facts about where we stand legally with regard to having to grant access to a prospective developer.
Due to the complexity of the various land transfer’s and embedded restrictive covenants, which often come with financial implications, we are still in consultation with our legal advisor. As soon as we have a finite answer, we will be holding a virtual meeting with residents to discuss this further.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, please send them through to email@example.com and we will answer them if in a position to do so.
HOUSING DEVELOPMENT ON LAND NEXT TO OAKGROVE SCHOOL
Some residents have noticed that a plot of land between Oakgrove School and Claridge Park has been put up for sale and have asked us what is happening.
As your Parish Council we want to make local residents aware of our understanding of the current situation, as we have serious concerns about the impact of a potential housing development and that we are opposed to it.
What land are we talking about?
The land is shown in blue below. It is bounded by Chaffron Way (H7), the footpath along the side of the Oakgrove School playing fields, the footpath behind the houses on Claridge Park at the end of Tyhurst, and the cross-connecting footpath that joins with Far Holme. Note that the red line and blue square are not precisely drawn.
This land was originally purchased as part of the development of Milton Keynes and assigned for the development of Oakgrove School and its playing fields. We understand that the school do not need the land and have offered it for sale via its Kingsbridge Educational Trust.
This parcel of land has had two issues relating to housing development.
1. It is currently ‘landlocked’ as it is not connected to the highway system, either Chaffron Way (H7) or to the two roads of Claridge Park (Tyhurst and Far Holme).
2. We understand that the land has a restrictive covenant that reserves its usage for Community Use.
Bordering the potential development site (blue rectangle), and shown with red outline on the map above, is an area of land owned (freehold) by the Parish Council. When this thin strip of land was transferred to the Parish Council it came with covenants obliging future owners such as us to grant access across this strip of land if required to allow for housebuilding on the blue rectangle site.
To many of us on the Parish Council it seemed likely, given the demand for housing and the pressures this places on Milton Keynes Borough Council that one day, covenants or not, it would be over-ruled by Home Office edict or compulsory purchase so that this block of land could be released for building houses in a residential grid square.
The Parish Council would not normally have allowed roads to be built across its strip of land, but in this case, we have taken legal advice and been told this provision is written into the original agreement and is not something the Parish Council can oppose from a land ownership perspective.
The Current Situation
Oakgrove School (through its entity Kingsbridge Educational Trust) has exchanged contracts with Kach Capital Estates Ltd) who hope to develop this land for residential use. They have told us that they are considering building approximately 60 homes.
They would like access to Tyhurst or Far Holme or both. Their solicitors believe that the road capacity is adequate to accommodate the anticipated number of new dwellings and meets the requirements specified by Milton Keynes Council’s Residential Design Guide. The developers also expect that they can get a release from the covenant specifying the allowable use for the land.
How can Residents get involved if they have concerns or objections?
The developer will of course need Planning Permission from Milton Keynes Borough Council before any development can begin. They would have to satisfy the Council on several matters, including safeguards for the protection of endangered species such as Great Crested Newts, biodiversity protection and enhancements and acceptable plans for access to construction traffic. At the point that plans are submitted in outline or detailed form the public will have an opportunity to support or object to the permission being granted.
At this stage there are many questions that have to be answered.
We as the Parish Council have serious concerns about increased traffic on the narrow roads of Tyhurst and Far Holme and onto Walton Road, the lozenge roundabout on Claridge Drive and the road junction with Chaffron Way. The right turn onto Chaffron Way has been improved but still busy at peak times and would not be any easier with increased volume.
A Possible Solution for Access
An alternative solution to the increased traffic on Claridge Park would be to provide access to Chaffron Way directly from the new development. Given the history of this option in other parts of the city, this may be a long shot, but it must be an item for consideration if the Borough Council want to enable this development.
Next Steps and Questions
The developer has asked for the Parish Council’s views on the size, number and type of houses envisaged and how the corridor of green space to the North can be incorporated into the design for the development. So far, the Parish Council has not engaged in talks whilst checking our legal position and options. The important thing now is for the Parish Council to ensure that it represents the view of residents about this development, on points such as:
1. If traffic access through Claridge Park is inevitable, should it be through Tyhurst, Far Holme or both to split the load? Views will doubtless be split on this.
2. Should the junction of Far Holme and Walton Road be redesigned to make it safer, with a roundabout perhaps?
3. Would we want the lozenge roundabout to be widened or left narrow to restrict speed?
4. Would we want to make right turns onto Chaffron Way (west) prohibited?
5. If the developer offers (or is made to provide) new community facilities on the new site – what would they be:
• Play Parks – for what age children?
• Play facilities for older children, such as a MUGA (Multi Use Games Area), skate and/or bike park, sports pitches?
• Shop(s), food outlets, a pub?
We would like to know your thoughts on these matters in due course.
It is likely that many residents will have strong views about this possible development, which as your Parish Council we are opposed to. We have been told that we cannot stop this development by simply refusing access across our land.
We will be hosting a forum at which views can be aired and questions asked of Parish and Ward Councillors. Due to COVID restrictions this will be virtual. Details of the date and how to access it will be on our website and Facebook page at least 24 hours beforehand.
Most of us prefer leaving things as they are when it comes to new housing developments. However, we have chosen to live in an expanding city that many of us want to keep as green as possible. If things have to change, it is our collective responsibility to try to make it work as well as possible.
As soon as we release the date & time of the virtual forum it will be advertised here and across our various social media sites. Thank you for your patience.