MILTON KEYNES, a New Town of around 260,000 people some 50 miles from London, is famous for its American-style road grid and its high-modernist shopping mall. But this place, also known as pleasant but dull, has become a lot more colourful in recent times. Competing with the chain stores of the mall, there are now markets selling African and Asian food and the city is home to a 100+ nationalities. Milton Keynes nowadays has some of the “vibrancy” of multicultural London.
Established in 1967 in an attempt to be different from the previous New Towns built under the 1946 New Towns Act, which had been too rigidly built with no flexibility or space for organic growth, the planners of Milton Keynes wanted to accommodate a social mix and a balance of incomes in the different neighborhoods as a distinctive feature.
However, like the other New Towns of the South East which initially drew their population from the resettlement of skilled workers from London, Milton Keynes was at first ethnically homogeneous, still being identifiable as a distinct part of the ‘White ROSE’ (Rest of the South East – i.e. the South East outside London) in the 1990s.
Today Milton Keynes is a fast-growing city, which has set itself apart with a dedication to modern architecture, public art and creative expression and it is seen as a new multicultural city. The number of Milton Keynes residents born outside of the UK has more than doubled from 20,500 (9.9%) in 2001 to 46,100 (18.5%) in 2011.
This year the New Town celebrates its 50th anniversary and invests resources and public commitment into arts, heritage and culture as driver for the city future development. The questions raised by these ambitions, in particular the planning issues (growing city) and migration phenomena (the city is attractive for multi-ethnic low and middle income groups which escape London’s unaffordable prices), make Milton Keynes a very concrete example of a City of Comings and Goings.
The city is an excellent host for this year’s International New Town Day and we are very much looking forward to welcoming everyone interested in migration and New Towns in Milton Keynes on June 28th.
Earlier this year, the UK government has announced plans to build 17 new New Towns and villages across the English countryside in a bid to ease a chronic housing shortage. This means the discussion on the role of the state in national and regional planning, the relation to existing cities and countryside, the design and the principles of New town planning are again relevant. A panel discussion with UK international representatives and urban experts will critically address the controversial perspectives of this new developments.
“New garden towns and villages to provide 200.000 homes to ease housing shortage” published on the Telegraph on Jan 2nd, 2017
“What are garden villages and towns, where are they being built and why? Here’s what we know” appeared on The Sun, on Jan 2nd 2017