A rapidly expanding town with the fastest UK growth
Designated as a new town in January 1967, Milton Keynes was designed with the intention to become a city in scale. The site was chosen specifically as it is equidistant from London, Birmingham, Leicester, Oxford and Cambridge. With the intention that it would become a major regional centre and be self-sustaining.
In 2004 the Deputy Prime Minister announced the Government’s plan to double the population of Milton Keynes by 2026. At the 2011 census the population of the Milton Keynes urban area, including Newport Pagnell and Woburn Sands, was 229,941 and the wider borough was 248,800, an increase in population of around 195,000 since 1961. According to Community Action MK, by mid-2015 the population was estimated at around 260,000. The Cities Outlook Report 2015 states, by Centre of Cities, Milton Keynes was the fastest growing city in the UK by population with an annual growth rate of 1.6%.
Also since 2004, the share of the Milton Keynes population with higher level qualifications has increased significantly from 24% to 48%, with 36% of the population now holding a Level 4 Qualification, an increase of over 12%. Milton Keynes’ skilled labour base is growing, which reflects the ongoing shift in the local economy towards more knowledge-intensive activities. Its employment is dominated by high skill sectors (Business Administration & Support Services, Professional, Scientific & Technical, Information & Communication, Finance & Insurance and Education). Milton Keynes also has proportionately high levels of engagement of workforces in Transport than the national average.
The property market in Milton Keynes is buoyant. The area is a popular residential location and prices are below the average for the county of Buckinghamshire, by a little over 45%. In 2015, house prices saw an increase of 10% over the previous year with a 28% increase in the past 5 years.
Proximity to the M1 has led to the construction of a number of distribution centres, including Magna Park at the A421/A5130 junction. The 57.7-acre site is designed to provide a high-quality business environment for modern distribution and production companies, providing flexibility and choice. It is strategically located equidistant between Junctions 13 and 14 of the M1.
John Lewis has signed for a third build-to-suit project to be developed to go alongside its two current facilities. The new distribution centre will be fully operations in early 2016, new centre committing them to a further 25-year lease on the park, which is excellent news for local employment.
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Economy & Employment
Milton Keynes has the highest job growth in the UK in the past decade.
Rating company Experian, describing Milton Keynes as one of the leaders in a prospective economic recovery in November 2012. The Estates Gazette also placed Milton Keynes number one for office property growth outside the M25.
Milton Keynes’ excellent geographical placement means it is home to several national and international giants, including the UK headquarters of Argos, Domino’s Pizza, Marshall Amplification, Mercedes-Benz, Suzuki, Volkswagen Audi Group and Yamaha Kemble.
In January 2015, Milton Keynes was announced as having seen the highest growth in jobs out of the biggest 64 towns/cities in the UK, during the preceding decade. Between 2004 and 2013, Milton Keynes saw its number of jobs increase by 18.2%.
The professional, scientific and technical sector contributes the largest number of business units.
The retail sector is the largest contributor to employment.
Milton Keynes also has one of the highest rates of business start-ups in England.
Education, health and public administration are also important contributors to local employment.
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A 15-year regeneration partnership began in 2015.
Recent large-scale buildings include The Pinnacle MK on Midsummer Boulevard and the Vizion development on Avebury Boulevard.
The Pinnacle was the largest office building to be constructed in Milton Keynes in 25 years.
The Network Rail National Centre has been built in Silbury Boulevard; this building occupies a large land area but only rises to the equivalent of six stories; a return towards the design of the original central Milton Keynes developments.
RegenerationMK is the Council’s programme that is focusing on providing the neighbourhoods with improved housing, public space, and supporting and empowering communities through increased skills and access to employment.
To make this possible, the council is looking for a private sector partner to provide additional expertise and funding.
This partnership will work with local communities to shape the future of their neighbourhoods. The council will work with Mears Group PLC to improve housing and employment in Beanhill, North Bradville, Coffee Hall, Fullers Slade, Lakes Estate, Netherfield and Tinkers Bridge.
Air: The nearest international airport is London Luton Airport accessible by coach from MK Central station. There is also a direct rail connection to Birmingham International station for Birmingham Airport.
Rail: Milton Keynes has five railway stations. MK Central is served by inter-city services. Wolverton, MK Central and Bletchley stations are on the West Coast Main Line. Fenny Stratford, Woburn Sands and Bow Brickhill are on the Marston Vale Line. The train from MK Central to London Euston takes just under 40 minutes.
Bus: Many long-distance coaches stop at the Milton Keynes Coachway located beside the M1 at Junction 14. There is also a Park and Ride car park on the site. Regional coaches stop at MK Central. It is also served by Arriva-branded services from Aylesbury and Luton as well as Stagecoach East which operate routes to Oxford & Cambridge and Stagecoach Midlands which operates to Peterborough and Leicester.
Road: The M1 motorway runs to the east of Milton Keynes and serves it from junctions 13, 14 and 15A. The A5 dual carriageway runs through Milton Keynes. The A509 links Milton Keynes with Wellingborough and Kettering. The A421 and A422, both run west towards Buckingham and east towards Bedford.
Cycle: Milton Keynes is served by and provides part of both routes 6 and 51 on the National Cycle Network.
Like most parts of the UK, the state secondary schools in Milton Keynes are comprehensive schools, such as Stantonbury Campus and Denbigh School, although the rest of Buckinghamshire still use the Tripartite System. Results are above the national average.
Private schools in Milton Keynes include the 3-18 co-ed Webber Independent School and the 2½ to 11 co-ed Milton Keynes Preparatory School. Selective schools in Buckingham and Aylesbury also accept some pupils from within the MK area, with Buckinghamshire County Council operating the school bus services.
Higher Education: The Open University’s headquarters are based in the Walton Hall district, though as this is a distance learning institution. The only students resident on campus is approximately 200 full-time postgraduates.
Cranfield University, an all-postgraduate institution, is in nearby Cranfield, Bedfordshire. Milton Keynes College provides further education up to foundation degree level.
Milton Keynes does not yet have a university, its founders hope that this will change in the future, as it is currently the UK’s largest population centre without its own university.
Shops & Leisure
Shopping & Dining: The Central Milton Keynes Shopping Centre is a purpose-built, very large covered high street shopping centre. The centre is anchored by John Lewis, House of Fraser and Marks and Spencer. The complex is the 15th largest shopping centre in the UK, with a floor area of 166,000 sqm.
Entertainment & Culture: Live music is a big pastime in Milton Keynes, with the National Bowl, The Stables and The Craufurd Arms, which is a Victorian public house, with a small stage for intimate live gigs in the main bar, as well as a venue out at the back of the pub for larger gigs and concerts.
The Milton Keynes Museum includes the Stacey Hill Collection of rural life that existed before the foundation of Milton Keynes. The 1,400 seats Milton Keynes Theatre opened in 1999, containing an unusual design concept, the ceiling can be lowered closing off the third tier to create a more intimate space for smaller scale productions.
Green Space: The floodplains of the Great Ouse and its tributaries have been protected as linear parks that run through Milton Keynes. The Grand Union Canal is another green route and due to the flat-lying land in the area, it has just one lock in its ten-mile route.