One of the few curious things in the NIC Corridor Study was its talk of MK increasing to Half a Million target population ‘in line with local aspirations’
There has as far I am aware never been such an aspiration. The design size of the New Town was 250,000 – still not reached today when you extract the small rural population. The South East plan implied around 320,000 by around 2030. The submitted local plan has no specific target though on the basis of its growth it implies around 309,00 by 2026. The MK Growth commission repeated this figure. Although of course some of the growth will be over the border in Central Beds and Aylesbury Vale. So roughly 320-330,000 by 2030 now seems to be the figure if you are careful to exclude development at Wilmslow and Marston Vale.
So where does the figure of 500,000 come from? I think it is a typo and should be 400,000. The reference to 400,000 comes from a David Lock report from MK50, a Milton Keynes Partnership project. ‘Directions and Scale of Growth for Milton Keynes‘. Which is evidence base not approved strategy. This mentions a figure of 400,000 based on transit based communities in all obvious directions, although this includes development in Marston Vale at Wilmslow etc. which would be hard pressed to call MK. This study – though good – was value about density. If you included the kind of densities Suggested in Studio 5s report for the NIC and expanded some of the growth corridors. South East of the City and towards Cranfield you might get more towards 430,000. If you included growth at rail nodes at Castlethorpe and Cheddington possibly 450,000. 500,000 would be very hard. You really would be up against the natural limits of the city size then and I doubt 1/2 million could be accommodated with the current strategic road network and the capacity limits of the M1. Also repeating the 1960s grid, though there is a strong lobby for this locally, would repeat car orientated sprawl, a smaller grain grid with less collector roads is needed. Were however as the David Lock report suggests development to leap Waddon Chase to a new community grid then to its west then you could develop a a north South Road off the proposed East West Expressway effectively forming an MK bypass and linking to the M1 South of Castlethorpe. One of the problems with MK’s current structure is you have to drive through the centre of MK to get anywhere North South of East west from the city’s fringes. Then you might just about to hit 500k, but the question remains why would you when locations with rail access or potential rail access exist elsewhere in the corridor. I think 450k is more realistic.