Connecting Aspley Guise with the Grand Union Canal!

Who would have thought that in 2016, a serious project exists to connect the Grand Union Canal (in Milton Keynes) with the Great Ouse in Bedford? The Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust wishes to achieve this goal and the new waterway would pass directly north of Aspley Guise – through the area of land known as the Aspley Triangle.

The waterway would be a fantastic amenity to the residents of Aspley Guise whether that be for walking, cycling, fishing, etc.

More importantly, it further questions village rumours that 5,000 homes would be placed in the land north of Aspley Guise if Plan:MK were to recommend expansion into this area. CBC’s own Local Development Framework map confirms that they approved the route (because they’ve drawn it on their map), and when one considers how much space a waterway, green space, a road, redways (etc) would consume, it’s pretty clear that Plan:MK is more about “building houses”.

 

Advertisements

Summary of survey responses

Thank you to all those who responded to me – it was wonderful to receive emails, text messages, and a hand written letter!

A number of residents told me that they had not thought about the issues raised and were pleased to have been presented with a set of sensible questions. I’d still like to receive feedback from others, particularly residents in Mount Pleasant, Wood Lane, and Salford Road, so please review it and get in touch!

A421 / traffic issues

If there is one issue that unites everyone, it’s the annoyance at CBC’s failure to dual the A421. Responses varied in their levels of anger, with one resident describing Aspley Guise as a “dumping ground for cars”. There were mixed views on the effectiveness of the new yellow lines on West Hill, with one noting that it’s merely made the rat-run smoother.

Residents also supported CBC relinquishing control of the A421 to MKC, with some land around it, if this means the road is upgraded. There was also strong support for a major traffic calming scheme through the village: ideas included banning heavy goods vehicles, 20mph speed limits, etc.

At the Plan:MK meeting, our CBC Ward Councillor (of two decades) stood up and announced that he will deliver a plan and action to deliver traffic calming.

Housing density

Residents declared Aspley Guise “full”, and derided the current “in-fill only” policy promoted by CBC in their attempts to dissuade MK Expansion by banning development outside of the village.

The irony of this topic is that CBC have introduced a policy that does not meet the legitimate wishes of residents for sensible, controlled development within the village and a presumption of development outside the village.

Council Tax

The views were balanced between residents who don’t feel we receive a good deal given the proximity of Woburn Sands and the services they enjoy (ie weekly rubbish collection), and those who felt the charge was about fair but expected a little more for their money.

Schooling

I received two types of feedback. One group stated their children were grown up and they didn’t really have any involvement in the education system. And families were largely unhappy with the current schooling arrangements – the pre & lower school are highly regarded, but sending our children 8+ miles to Leighton Buzzard instead of 4 miles to MK for secondary schooling was not appreciated. One resident stated that either the education system changes or she’ll move into Woburn Sands and enjoy MK’s system – which is not a positive sign for our community!

Refuse

Couples tend to be happy with fortnightly rubbish collection, but families would prefer weekly. The ‘green bag’ garden waste scheme is not popular (residents want a wheelie bin option). One resident suggested a ‘local grass collection service’, which I think it is an interesting idea to put to the Parish Council.

Redways

I was very pleased to discover that MK’s Redway system is popular with residents. One resident concluded that connection would be an ‘asset’ to our village. Mill Lane and north of the railway line were touted as potential locations for a new redway.

Representation

I found broad support for electing a Councillor to MKC, even though this would mean being part of MK Borough. Some residents were of course happy with the current arrangements, but felt that a more effective solution was required to engaging with MK Council.

 And finally …

Please remember that whilst your responses helped me gauge the views of residents, you must express them in your own words by responding to the Plan:MK consultation. This can be done by emailing planmk@milton-keynes.gov.uk. Whilst expressing views on the questions I’ve raised, it would be helpful if you also answered the questions they are asking in their consultation document:

  1. Do you think that continuing the outward expansion of the Milton Keynes urban area in this direction is the best way to accommodate new development in the longer term?
  2. Are some areas on the edge of Milton Keynes identified in this direction more sensitive to new development than others? If so, which? Are there some areas identified in this direction that you think are more suitable?
  3. If Direction of Growth 1 were to proceed, should we define an eventual ‘final extent’ of development? If so, where should this be?
  4. Is a green buffer the best way of protecting the character and integrity of the existing settlements that lie within the areas of new development identified in Direction of Growth 1? Or would you prefer to see them integrated in a similar fashion to the villages in the existing urban area, for example Great Linford and Loughton?

 

 

 

 

The “in-fill” policy, a story from Salford Road

I received this email from a concerned resident in Salford Road.

Dear Mr Baker

I was at the meeting yesterday John and heard your and others inputs.  Regarding the in-fill building or even back-fill that is happening behind the old Powage Press building on Church Street – I would like to use this as a prime example of how long-suffering residents of Salford Road (which becomes Church Street) have had to put up for over 6 months.

I am sick and tired of being held up by contractors squeezing into the tiny gap to reach the new build behind Powage Press.  They closed the road without notice (which will be illegal soon and they could be fined by CBC) for 2 days to have the water connect via Anglian Water.  They hold up traffic all the time.

Recently the whole of Church Street has been a parking space for contractors vehicles and with the blind bends its impossible to get through without lots of backing up both ways.  Today was the icing on the cake – as I approached the bend near The Avenue a huge lorry was parked on the pavement but still obstructing the road and causing danger as no-one could see any oncoming traffic, when I nudged further round the bend I was sickened to see the whole left hand side of the road right down to The Square was a parking lot for contractors vans, cars and lorries and as usual the contractor was in the road holding up traffic whilst a huge lorry did a 10 point reverse to squeeze into the gap to access the New Build.  Traffic was at a standstill.  Vehicles were held up behind me and The Square was awash with contractors and vehicles trying to use Church Street.  I took photos of what is a typical day.

If this in-fill (I say this is back-fill) continues the village will ground to a halt.  How can CBC pass the okay to do a new build when it causes huge inconvenience for over 6 months to residents.  Just so someone can make a fortune from a tiny almost inaccessible piece of land.  Photos attached.

I wanted to pass on the photos to you and Budge in the hope that CBC will actually listen to the residents of Aspley Guise and understand the misery their planning consents cause.

Milton Keynes expansion & Aspley Guise: Your views?

Dear Neighbour,

As a concerned resident of 2 Salford Road, I’m writing to you with respect to Plan:MK, the Milton Keynes (MK) ‘expansion options’ consultation currently taking place. Some proposals will impact Aspley Guise.

Plan:MK is the next step in the development of MK. We are a village immediately adjacent to the MK boundary, and MK need only expand a mile south before it reaches the railway line. I have noticed we are not being actively consulted by letter and the only consultation is an exhibition at the village hall on the 18th February (7pm).

After doing some research, I’ve put together some questions you may wish to consider when responding to the consultation, and please copy me with your feedback if you wish to share it. It’s important our views are counted, whatever they may be!

Aspley Guise traffic issues / A421

For years, the partly dualled A421 has resulted in some MK bound traffic coming from the M1 junction 13 through the village via Bedford Road & West Hill. The A421 connecting Kingston to the M1 is part owned by MKC and CBC. MKC have nearly finished dualling their stretch, but CBC have achieved rather less, despite the impact it is having on the village during rush hour. CBC Officers have told me they are ‘not confident’ of obtaining funding to complete dualling.

Question 1: Are you affected by MK bound traffic, and would you support traffic calming / disincentives for through traffic along Bedford Road & West Hill?

Question 2: Would you like to see CBC and MKC co-operate, perhaps by CBC relinquishing ownership of the A421 west of the M1, to speed up the process of dualling – perhaps by including it within Plan:MK?

Council Tax

The band D (average, comparative) Council Tax precept for the residents of Aspley Guise is £1595/year. In Woburn Sands, it is £1463. A comparable “village” Parish in MK (“Old Woughton”) charges £1403.

Question 3: Given the services we receive from CBC, do you feel we receive good value for money?

Housing density

Aspley Guise is already at a higher density than many estates in Milton Keynes, yet CBC’s planning policies favour development within the village boundary rather than outside of it.

Question 4: Are you happy with continued ‘in-fill’ development within the village boundary, or would you prefer new development to happen outside of the village? If so, where?

Primary schooling

Aspley Guise Lower school has an Ofsted rated ‘Outstanding’ primary school, and operates a three tier (lower/middle/upper) system, so children must leave at 9 years old, moving to Fulbrook (Woburn Sands).

Milton Keynes runs a two tier primary/secondary school system, with many Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ primary schools.

Question 5: Do you prefer a two or three tier system, and if two, would you like Aspley Guise Lower school to cater for children until the age 11?

Secondary schooling

Two Leighton Buzzard secondary schools serve Aspley Guise, Vandyke, 8.1 miles (from The Square, Aspley Guise), or Cedars, 9.5 miles. Both are Ofsted rated ‘Good’.
Our nearest MK secondary school is Walton High, 4 miles, and Ofsted rated ‘Outstanding’. The next nearest is Oakgrove, 4.5 miles, also ‘Outstanding’.

Question 6: Are you content with commuting children to Leighton Buzzard or do you believe we should have access to MK’s secondary schools?

Refuse collection / recycling

CBC collect the rubbish on a bi-weekly basis, with a small provision for garden waste. MKC collect all rubbish weekly, with (one or more) weekly wheelie bin provision for garden waste.

Question 7: Are you happy with the current rubbish/recycling service, and if not, how could it be improved?

Walking and cycle paths

The MK ‘redway’ network separates cyclists & pedestrians from traffic. In Woburn Sands, the redway system connects to 170 miles of redway running through MK, which helps keep children safe. The redway system does not come to Aspley Guise, so our residents have to use the busy West Hill or unmaintained Mill Lane to reach Woburn Sands.

Question 8: Would you like to see Aspley Guise connected to the redway network, if so, how? Three possibilities include north of the railway line, along Mill Lane, or adjacent to West Hill.

Representation

The residents of Aspley Guise elect a Councillor to CBC, with no influence over MK Council’s expansion agenda.

The residents of near-by Woburn Sands (and Wavendon, Lower End, etc) elect Councillors to MK Council, who argue the case for sensible expansion on behalf of their residents.

Question 9: Are you content being without a voice on MK Council, essentially leaving the members of CBC (based in Chicksands) to speak on our behalf to MKC?

 

John Baker, 2 Salford Road, Aspley Guise.
(t) 07736393822 (e) TheManorAspleyGuise@gmail.com