EU Europe for Citizens, New Town, Arrival Cities Project

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Central Milton Keynes Aerial View, 2021 from Campbell Park looking West (Photo Matthew Wall)

Milton Keynes - the 'Design City'

Milton Keynes has the prestige of being the largest new town ever designed in the UK and one of the largest in Europe.

Based on a North American grid road model, it represents the pinnacle of the government-led national post-war planning movement which sought to rebuild the country after World War II, accommodating a growing population against the background of bombed cities.  A city originally planned for 250,000 people, expertly delivered by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation in conjunction with famous and talented architects and urban planners, it is connected by an unrivalled green framework covering almost 40% of the land use.

International admiration

Loved by its residents, Milton Keynes is admired internationally, and a steady stream of people come here to seek to learn its lessons. As we move forward with more growth, planned regeneration and the need for how we will live to address a climate emergency, Milton Keynes is working with other new towns across the UK and Europe to show how our unique designs can help meet these challenges we all share and offer solutions to each other, giving our residents the best possible place to live, work and play.

New Towns, Arrival Cities partner

Milton Keynes Council, led by its culture team, has been a partner in the 'New Towns, Arrival Cities', which was funded with the support of the European Union under the Programme 'Europe for Citizens'.

The three-year project 'New Towns Arrival Cities', 2016 – 19 which was led by the Dutch New Town Municipality of Nissewaard and coordinated by the International New Town Institute, established a platform for knowledge exchange between six European New Towns and four research institutions on the topic of migration and the role of cultural diversity in shaping contemporary multicultural society.

The project consisted of five two-day “New Town Labs” looking at the main theme through different lenses, to build a more comprehensive picture of new town migration

  1. (Lab#1 – Milton Keynes, UK) – Art, Heritage and Culture;
  2. (Lab#2 – Sabaudia, Italy) - Public spaces as drivers of inclusion;
  3. (Lab#3 – Grand Paris Sud, France) - Processes of urban citizenship;
  4. (Lab#4 – Vällingby, Sweden) - Adapting the welfare state model infrastructures, and
  5. (Lab#5 – Nissewaard, Netherlands) - The need of a new alliance between government and citizens

While placing migration and inclusion at the centre of the reflection, the 'New Towns, Arrival Cities' project has brought together European city representatives, researchers, students, citizens, local migrant communities, universities, local associations and experts and engaged them in a series of events which have directly involved 710 people and 72 international delegates representing ten partners’ institutions.

Report learnings

More information on Milton Keynes and the other Labs can be found on the following reports on what learning can be taken forward

Lab#1  Milton Keynes, UK: “Culture, Migration and Identity” (November 22-23, 2017)

- Lab#2  Sabaudia, IT: “Re-planning collective spaces to rediscover our roots” (May 16-17, 2018)

- Lab#3  Grand Paris Sud, FR: “Migrants in a new town: a process of citizenship” (October 17-18, 2018)

- Lab#4  Vällingby, SE: “Adapting To Present Needs - The ABC-Town in Transition” (December 12-13, 2018)

- Lab#5  Nissewaard, NL: “Reshaping government-citizen relations” (20-21-22 February 2019)

For the final report and to know more about the scope of the programme and cities’ contexts, participants and local organisations involved, please visit the New Towns project website.

Partners of the project 

For Milton Keynes, the project was a great success, building new networks across Europe and the UK with Milton Keynes in a leading role, testing new ides and encouraging new local projects that are benefitting our citizens,  The research also contributed to a 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Report by the MK Arts and Heritage Alliance to offer recommendations to how Milton Keynes cultural sector could work together on these issues.

A further benefit from the partnership is that Milton Keynes has helped to create a new project, New Town Sports Cities, which has recently been funded by the EU for new towns, led by Grand Paris Sud in France.  Four new towns will work together in 2021 and 2022, using sports and culture to promote more active citizens, increase mobility and access to sports and cultural activity and to build on the Milton Keynes European City of Sport 2020 Legacy.

Culture Team contact information

Civic, 1 Saxon Gate East, Milton Keynes MK9 3EJ