Deal struck with UK-Swedish development team for £25m Agora regeneration
Monday 12 November 2018
Long-awaited regeneration of the Agora Centre and car park in Wolverton, Milton Keynes, has taken a major step forward with contracts being agreed for the sale of the site to a partnership between innovative UK developer TOWN and Swedish builder Trivselhus.
TOWN has been negotiating the purchaser of the Agora centre from current Agora owner Leyland Holding Company since summer 2017. In December 2017 Milton Keynes Council decided to sell TOWN the adjacent car park to facilitate a comprehensive regeneration scheme, with redevelopment of the 1.2-hectare site being a strategic priority for the Council.
The project will see proposals for mixed-use town centre regeneration come forward including:
- Demolition of the Agora Centre;
- Reinstatement of Radcliffe Street between Church Street and The Square;
- New local shops and services along Radcliffe Street and Church Street, including a small supermarket to replace the former Co-op;
- Over 100 new homes, including around 50 family ‘smart homes’ built with the super-sustainable Trivselhus timber buildling system, plus new apartments for affordable rent and shared ownership;
- A community energy microgrid; and
- Flexible on- and-off-site car and cycle parking for residents and town centre visitors.
Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of the Council and Wolverton ward councillor, said: “The Agora has detracted from Wolverton town centre for years and I’m pleased to secure a developer with a track record of quality and an evident commitment to the town to regenerate this important site. The terms of sale of the car park allow the Council as landowner to approve the eventual scheme so that we can secure the outcomes local people have said they want through the Neighbourhood Plan.”
TOWN has a long history of involvement with the site, with one of its directors having worked with Wolverton and Greenleys Town Council and the local community to support the preparation of the Wolverton Neighbourhood Plan adopted in 2015.
TOWN has been involved in a working group set up by Milton Keynes Council with local business and faith representatives, the Town Council and community enterprise Future Wolverton to study options for improving transport and replacing lost car parking when the site is redeveloped.
Neil Murphy, Director of TOWN, said: “We’ve been working with local people on this key Wolverton site for over six years and are excited finally to be able to bring forward plans which we hope will change Wolverton town centre for the better. We’ve already consulted and built relationships with many parties and amassed a thorough understanding of the site, its constraints and how we can best deliver against the outcomes defined in the Neighbourhood Plan. So the good news is that we anticipate setting out detailed proposals for consultation with local people early in 2019 so that, once we’ve taken their views on board and secured planning permission, we can get cracking.”
Trivselhus, who are also behind the successful Sommar Place development in Broughton, Milton Keynes, are already partnering TOWN in delivery of their award-winning cohousing scheme at Marmalade Lane, Cambridge. Ken Forster, Managing Director of Trivselhus UK, said: “Wolverton is a fantastic place, very different from new-town Milton Keynes but just as progressive and forward-looking. It’s an ideal location for Trivselhus to be pursuing its largest UK investment to date, and a great opportunity to marry our Swedish sustainable ‘smart home’ approach with TOWN’s expertise in street-based design and place-making. With Milton Keynes having just celebrated its 50th birthday we hope this project will point the way to a new era of urban innovation.”
Consultation on detailed proposals are expected in Spring 2019 prior to submission of a full planning application in Summer 2019. The regeneration scheme is expected to cost £25 million and take between three and four years to complete.