Milton Keynes: A City With Heart

Milton Keynes – a city full of roundabouts, a concrete jungle, a stolen football team. The city with no history and no character. That’s the feedback I get when I say I live in Milton Keynes. And yet I love it. I moved here resignedly 12  years ago because it was a hub – it was somewhere where I could work across much of England with little time spent away.

Communications has become one of it’s main attractions, only 40 minutes from London but without the house prices. The ability to move around a large city (sic) easily due to the grid network means that services and attractions are never more than 15 minutes away.

Milton Keynes: Not Just
 Concrete and Roundabouts

(Image © John Laverick, TattyDon)

The bit that most people don’t get about Milton Keynes is the countryside. The city is built around parkland to the extent that you can cycle from one side to the other without crossing a main road.  I’m 40 minutes from London, in a major town and yet am two minutes away from open countryside, from deer, foxes and unlimited walking.

Each residential area of the city is created with parkland and is under the main road grid of the city. This means that each one has a village spirit with a local centre a school and generally a pub. The beauty of this is that you are living in a city but with the community feel of a village where you know everyone, there are support networks and it’s safe for the kids.

The football team, although hated by some because of the manner of it’s creation is great obliquely because of that very fact. The club identified early on that it needed to engage with families due to it not inheriting much of a ‘normal’ football supporter base. The result is a community oriented club that provides a safe, family focused environment and is built on a sustainable base.

Milton Keynes has only been around for forty years, which for a city is a very short time. It is still undergoing huge development and the continuing housing expansion means focus on increased service provision, new schools and new leisure facilities. For these reasons its easy to get involved in the city. It’s easy through local interaction, council posts, school governor posts to get involved and make a difference. The newness of the city means that you can really feel like you are making a difference to the future of the town. A motivating and inspirational thought.

Of all the new towns, Milton Keynes has been the most successful. It works in comparison to Telford for instance because of it’s location, it’s focus on creating a city center (and a corresponding leisure area – the theater district. The town planners have never lost sight of the principles on which it was created: Green space, mixed housing and the ability to walk and ride around the city easily and safely.

Milton Keynes, a town built for the car but offering better cycling and walking opportunities than most traditional cities.