Since the last project update in November, we’ve been focusing on lining up the components of a deliverable and viable scheme before we progress to submitting a full planning application for the Agora regeneration.
We’ve been talking with housing associations about the mix, quantum and funding of affordable housing so that we can put a robust strategy for affordable housing delivery to Milton Keynes Council.
We’ve been informally testing the proposed retail provision with potential occupiers and investors to get the amount, layout and design right – culminating in our recent marketing launch. This is vital to show we can achieve the ambitions of the Wolverton Neighbourhood Plan for new independent shops and services, not just housing.
We’ve been continuing to work with Milton Keynes Council, Wolverton and Greenleys Town Council and other stakeholders on proposals for improvements to Church Street and a replacement town centre car parking at St Georges Way. This will proceed in tandem with redevelopment and provide continuity of amenity for Wolverton residents and businesses.
And, with Milton Keynes Council granting planning permission to demolish the Agora just before Christmas, we’ve undertaken a full asbestos survey of the Agora Centre in preparation for demolition. The bad news is that there’s even more asbestos than we feared, so demolition is going to be costlier, and take longer, than we’d hoped. The good news is that we’ll be issuing an invitation to tender to specialist demolition firms in the next couple of weeks to kick the demolition process off. When a contractor has been appointed, we’ll provide a full briefing on the demolition process and timescale and how we’ll keep the area safe and tidy during demolition.
All this means that submission of a planning application for the scheme is delayed. With design work on hold while we work through the matters above, rest assured that the scheme that emerges will reflect the principles and designs set out in last summer’s Public Review – updated, of course, on the basis of public feedback – and that we’re wedded to ensuring that the planning application we submit is viable, deliverable and in line with our commitment to lasting regeneration.