Members' Breakfast Briefing with David Foster, The Parks Trust
Date: 18 Aug 2021
Securing the future of Milton Keynes’ green network
The Chief Executive of The Parks Trust has addressed business leaders from across Milton Keynes, calling for a strategic approach to the expansion of green spaces as the city’s growth objectives are realised.
Speaking at a Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership (MKBLP) event at Bletchley Park, David Foster stressed how an anticipated population increase of over 200,000 inhabitants by 2050 will put pressure on the current green network, and the management of its assets.
“We cannot afford for our green spaces to become a liability which other cities have witnessed. It could negatively affect the economic and social prospects of the city. The public needs to be interested and concerned for its future.”
Such is The Trust’s commitment to ensuring the longevity and development of the green network it operates, they have created an inspirational landscapes document, detailing its vision for the future of Milton Keynes and its green spaces.
One of the greatest successes of the original blueprint for Milton Keynes was the strategic planning of its green spaces. David is now lobbying for this approach to be adopted again, and new spaces to be planned holistically: “We need to ensure the entire network remains linked, which was one of the original triumphs, while provisions need to made for another Campbell Park or Willen Lake.”
“Around 1 million homes will be built within the Oxford to Cambridge Arc, and Milton Keynes will see a significant part of this development. It’s not enough to simply add a park or a playing field. With this scale of growth, you’re essentially growing a new city, it needs to be properly planned and there are gaps along the green corridor which need to be plugged.”
David is also calling for the value of the land to be effectively captured as the city continues to grow. Efficient taxation is also needed to create a good provision for the long term maintenance of green spaces, so it doesn’t become a burden to the local authority.
Established by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation, The Parks Trust covers 25% of the area of Milton Keynes. With an original endowment of £20 million and a 999 year lease, The Trust is funded through the rental income from its assets.
Testament to the public’s reliance on Milton Keynes’ green network, with increased footfall during the pandemic, The Trust has recently revealed within its Annual Report, that its asset base has increased by over £12 million: “Local businesses have stuck with us.”
David, who recently announced his retirement after 18 years at the helm of The Parks Trust, is planning to complete the investment in Campbell Park before he leaves next year. His legacy will be to leave the charity in a strong, robust position.
Along with his successor, it’s now down to the public and the various communities, to realise his ambition that the city’s green spaces continues to grow and be loved by the people of Milton Keynes.