The MK Futures 2050 Commission was set up in September 2015 as a way of thinking about the future of the city, helping to create a long term vision for the way MK should grow and prosper over the coming decades.  The Commission was made up of a group of nine individuals, chaired by Sir Peter Gregson the VC from Cranfield University, with the other commissioners being either experts in their fields or local champions.  

The Commission process was supported by Council officers and our political Group Leaders also attended the Commission meetings to be able to contribute to the debate.  The group discussed the issues, challenges and opportunities facing MK and the global drivers that will influence the place in the future.  They talked about the importance of inclusive growth, to make sure that the benefits of growth are shared across the whole community – not just those living in areas or working in newly created jobs.

They felt that education and mobility were fundamental to the future prosperity of the city, and that addressing those two issues were the priority.  So as part of how to deliver their vision for MK in 2050, the Commission recommended Six Big Projects.  

The Commission published their report in July 2016 and it was debated at our Full Council meeting that month where the report gained unanimous support from across all of the Councillors.  

You can read more about the Commission and their recommendations for the projects in their report “Making a Great City Greater” at MKFutures2050.com/read-our-report.


What is the MK Futures 2050 programme?

The role of the MK Futures 2050 Commission came to a formal end in July 2016 when they published their report. Picking up on the Commission’s recommendations, the Council’s work to deliver the Six Big Projects is now being managed through the MK Futures 2050 programme. The programme is a portfolio of linked projects that will together help to build a stronger future for Milton Keynes, delivering the vision for 2050. The projects will provide opportunities for everyone who lives, works, studies or spends time in the city.

What are the projects and how do they link together?

The Commission recommended Six Big Projects which are being taken forward by the Council and partners. 

The Projects 

  • Project One - Growth and Strategy

    The Commission recognised the opportunities that are created by Milton Keynes position at the hub of the corridor between Cambridge and Oxford. The National Infrastructure Commission are looking at this corridor too, and thinking about how improving transport infrastructure and cross-boundary strategic planning could create benefits for the wider region. Being at the centre of this corridor, especially with improved transport links, means MK can really benefit from access to knowledge-intensive jobs, a highly-skilled workforce and a bigger market for our services. So as part of Project 1 we are working to capitalise on those opportunities through work with partners, neighbouring authorities and central government. As part of Project 1 we are also preparing a Strategy for 2050, which is a long term, non-statutory document that will look more holistically at the policies needed to support MK into the future. It will inform the statutory plan-making process, through the current emerging Local Plan (Plan:MK) and future iterations of the Local Plan, plus other Council and partner strategies. The Strategy for 2050 will be an opportunity to do things differently, perhaps where there needs to be a change in direction to make sure the city is future-proofed or can be flexible to new technologies.
  • Project Two – MK:U, a new university for Milton Keynes

    The Commission recognised the opportunities that a resident undergraduate population could bring to Milton Keynes, ranging from creating a highly skilled workforce to meet the demands of knowledge intensive businesses in the area, to bringing a new sector of users to the city centre to create a diverse and independent cultural and leisure offer. This project is working to deliver that, meeting the city’s long-held ambition for a large, undergraduate university in MK. With a city-centre campus, MK:U will have around 10,000 students, studying a range of technology, engineering and science-focussed courses, producing highly skilled, employable graduates. It will offer new ways of learning, with teaching over fewer years, or with much more integration with industry so that graduates leave the university ready for the world of work, and with less debt. The university would be a facility shared by the whole city, creating a vibrant hub within CMK where people of all ages can spend time. MKC has worked with Cranfield University to work up a business case for MK:U and the Council will soon be looking for a higher education institute partner to move the project forward to the next stage.

    View the Business and Development Plan

  • Project Three – Learning 2050

    In their report, the Commission highlighted the importance of a strong education offer across the city, recognising that today there is considerable room for improvement in both attainment and aspiration. This is in the context of the increasing independence of schools which limits the influence that Milton Keynes Council can have over this issue. Discussions with the School Improvement team in the context of MK’s schools recent improvements in levels of attainment have indicated that existing projects and initiatives are now bedding in and demonstrating a positive impact, including subject forums to share best practice across schools. At this stage, it is considered that further intervention through the Learning 2050 project would not add value to the improvement that is currently being achieved.
  • Project Four - Smart, Shared and Sustainable Mobility

    The Commission was clear that for the city to be successful in the future, everyone who lives, works, studies or does business here must be able to move freely and on demand, and not be reliant on access to a private car. The Smart, Shared, Sustainable Mobility project reflects the growing move towards ‘mobility as a service’ and the use of autonomous and electric vehicles, and the opportunities that these trends could create for Milton Keynes. This project is aligned with the preparation of a new Mobility Strategy to support Plan:MK, which will replace the existing Local Transport Plan 3. It also links with the Strategy for 2050, to reflect how different forms of transport will change the way the city works and how land will be used. For example, if vehicles dropping workers off at offices or the station in CMK in the morning can drive themselves off be used for other journeys throughout the day, what opportunities could that create for the land currently used for car parking in the city centre? Through this project, we are exploring issues such as this, and how we can put in place mechanisms and policies that mean we can take advantage of the opportunities that new technologies can bring.
  • Project Five - Renaissance: CMK

    The Renaissance: CMK project aims to create an even stronger city centre that is fit for the challenges of the mid-21st century and capitalises on our position on the Cambridge-MK-Oxford corridor. Within the city centre, there are parcels of vacant land and some underused buildings that could be developed (or redeveloped) to help to create the vitality and excitement that could be expected of a growing city. This project therefore aims to attract investment in new employment, residential, retail and leisure opportunities, drawing on the benefits that could be created by a new city centre university and the different ways people will move around in the future. To help do this, we are creating a CMK Prospectus that sets out the vision for the city centre and opportunities for investment. The MK:U project will be an important catalyst for this work, which demonstrates the great potential that the city centre has to be an exciting place to live, work, study and visit.
  • Project Six - the Creative and Cultured City

    Project Six recognises the significant economic role that culture plays, proposing that more is done to establish Milton Keynes as a place known by visitors, workers and residents for its distinctive culture whether for art, heritage, sports, creativity, innovation, business and community. The Creative and Cultured City project helps to bring together related cultural opportunities, including the preparation of Milton Keynes’ bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2023, building on the momentum of the MK50, the 50th birthday celebrations and ongoing review of cultural policy and strategy so it is fit for purpose. We also know that a new undergraduate university in the city centre will create opportunities and benefits from having a resident student population, with the cultural and independent offer that will grow up around the campus.

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