Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Milton Keynes at 50: The making of a new town

  • Video report by ITV News Anglia's Stuart Leithes

Famous for its concrete cows and roundabouts, Milton Keynes is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The project to build a ‘new town’ in Buckinghamshire to relieve a housing shortage in London began on 23 January 1967.

The then housing minister Anthony Greenwood granted permission to transform 8,850 hectares of farmland and undeveloped villages into a town of 250,000 people.

In five decades, it has changed beyond recognition.

“To begin with it didn’t affect people that much because the farmers were allowed to carry on… Obviously over the years there has been an enormous amount of building on all the fields and the farms have ceased to exist.”

– Geoffrey Dawe, Village historian
The original village from which Milton Keynes was formed Credit: ITV News Anglia

MK - as it is known to locals - is now used as a model for cities around the world.

10,000
Businesses in Milton Keynes in 2017

The original village is now found just off one of the roads that form a grid system - a town plan that is unique in the UK.

The road network was built in the 1970s - and Milton Keynes has become known for its high number of roundabouts.

Architectural artist Helmut Jacoby's 1970s drawing of how the 'new town' would look in the 1990s.

The Deputy Mayor of Milton Keynes, who grew up in the town, takes pride its unique identity.

Cllr David Hopkins believes those who live there have "nothing to be ashamed of".

"We've nothing to be ashamed of in Milton Keynes - yes we do have roundabouts because it helps make the traffic move faster, we do have concrete cows because that's the symbol of Milton Keynes."

"We're the place to be: we're the place where people want to come and live and we're the place with an identity all of its own - it's much more than concrete cows and roundabouts, it's actually a place for prosperity, it's a place where people have got full employment and it's a place where the school quality is fantastic and it's a place where people want to come and live."

– Cllr David Hopkins, Deputy Mayor Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes is bidding to become the European City of Cultures in 2023. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Milton Keynes Council is now looking ahead to the next half century.

They recently created the MKFutures 2050 commission to decide what the borough needs to ensure future prosperity.

"What we wanted to do was think about what kind of skills and education the population might need, what kind a city might need, and what kind of approach to things like transportation and mobility would we need to be able to thrive into the future whatever the circumstances."

– Geoff Snell, Director of Strategy & Futures,

It is also in the running to become the European City of Culture in 2023.

MKFutures 2050 commission has been launched to decide what is needed next for the borough. Credit: Milton Keynes Council

In 1967 the plan for a new town called Milton Keynes was innovative and ambitious.

Now they want to map out a road ahead that continues to follow a futuristic route.

More on this story