Local artists and market traders reveal new shutter designs

MK Gallery and community-focused design studio RESOLVE Collective selected local artists to develop designs for several stall shutters at Milton Keynes Open Market. The artists have been working with traders to creatively interpret the stories, knowledge and global connections of those within the market to create original designs which celebrate the value of the market for the community.

Teresa Lane, Interim Special Projects Director at Milton Keynes Development Partnership said: “MKDP funded this initiative as part of our investment in the market, which, so far, has included painting and improvement of the lighting underneath Secklow Gate. This exciting project aims to improve the appearance and visibility of the market with some shutters undergoing colourful and creative transformations.”

Roisin Callaghan, Producer, Public Programmes (Community & Partners) at MK Gallery said:

‘This project is particularly special because it is deeply rooted in the local community. The open market has been here since the birth of Milton Keynes. The artists are all have strong links to Milton Keynes and were selected based not only on their creative talents, but also on a written submission of a memory of the market and what it means to them.

“Everyone involved has been so positive and collaborative and soon we will all be able to enjoy the new shutter designs which will, over time, be another layer in the cultural heritage of this incredible market place.”

Park Square – new city centre apartments development

The city centre site where Galliford Try is constructing four blocks featuring over 300 apartments for Habitus Group has been named Park Square.

Interesting facts about this development include:

  • The piles will total 11,581 metres
  • The buildings steel frame will weigh 2,000 tonnes
  • It will use 687,000 bricks, which if placed end to end would almost stretch from Milton Keynes to Brighton
  • It will comprise 12,000m² of windows, which would cover more than one and a half football pitches

Our Property Development Director Matthew Green recently attended a ground breaking event with Milton Keynes Mayor Councillor Mohammed Khan, Galliford Try’s Regional Director Jon Marston, Tim Barry from Habitus and client representative Charles Fish from DLC Europe.

MKDP to increase and improve affordable housing provision

MKDP is progressing its plan to play a pivotable role in both facilitating growth and creating an affordable city by using some of its land holdings to produce a variety of affordable housing. This will create decent homes for essential workers and others on low incomes including supportive provision for those often excluded by mainstream affordable housing providers.

This new Local Housing Company will be a wholly owned subsidiary of MKDP and will be called Milton Keynes Housing Company Ltd (MKHC).

MKDP is in the process of setting up MKHC as a Registered provider. That means it will be regulated by the Regulator of Social Housing which will give Milton Keynes Council certainty that the homes will be managed by the Independent Board of MKHC as affordable housing. This will also provide protection on rents, value for money, and the standard of services delivered to MKHC’s residents.

Tracey Aldworth, Managing Director of MKDP said: “As a landowner we can increase delivery of affordable housing above the current 31% required to gain planning consent in Milton Keynes. Our target is at 50% on larger sites to maintain a mixed and balanced community and 100% on smaller sites. We also intend to raise the bar in terms of quality and play a greater role with the Council on delivering the placemaking agenda.”

MKDP will initially develop 19 mixed-tenure sites in Milton Keynes, which will produce up to 2,000 affordable homes in an overall programme of more than 4,000 homes by 2031. MKHC expects to have its first 78 affordable homes tenanted by late 2023 on a site at Kents Hill.

Further updates on the progress with the LHC will be put on the MKDP website.

MKDP looking for development partner for MK Open Market

The deadline for this opportunity has now passed.

MKDP is seeking a partner to facilitate the development of Milton Keynes Open Market. It is a centrally located prime commercial space that MKDP aspires to transform into a retail, leisure and food destination. Activate, Workman’s in-house placemaking team has been appointed to assess investor interest in this scheme. Potential partners should read the information below and respond to the questions. Please note that responses should be sent by Friday 6h May 2022 to activate@workman.co.uk.


  • Milton Keynes (MK) has a resident population of over 260,000 and it is growing at a rate of 1.04% per year (compared with the overall English growth rate of 0.83%) [1] The population is estimated to reach 500,000 by 2050.
  • Average disposable income of a household in MK is higher than the national average [2]
  • Central Milton Keynes (CMK) serves as both a Regional Shopping Centre, and a local centre, meeting day-to-day shopping needs [3].
  • A number of ambitious redevelopment projects are being planned for CMK over the coming years – and some are already underway, including MK Gateway, Hotel La Tour, Santander UK HQ, plus the redevelopment of The Point, the Former Food Centre and the former Wyevale Garden Centre. There are also ambitious emerging plans for the redevelopment of Station Square and Midsummer Boulevard East in the coming years
  • The CMK Alliance Neighbourhood Plan maintains that by 2026, Central Milton Keynes will be the dynamic centre of one of the fastest-growing regions in the South East [4]

Site Specific

  • Milton Keynes Open Market was part of the original masterplan for the city in the 1970s and is an essential part of both its history and its fabric.
  • The traditional market is a valuable asset serving important everyday needs for MK residents, particularly so for many from BAME backgrounds.
  • The market is centrally located on Midsummer Boulevard and immediately adjacent to Centre:mk shopping centre which attracts 23.4mn visitors per year [5].
  • MK Open Market has a current size of 3,446m2 and contains a strong core of existing traders selling food and dry goods. The market is recognised as the main independent retail centre in Milton Keynes.
  • The market contains over 100 stalls and is currently open between 8am – 5pm on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (earlier close of 4pm on Sunday)


  • Milton Keynes Development Partnership (MKDP) is an LLP and owned by Milton Keynes Council (MKC). It uses and develops its land assets to help the city become a better place to live, socialise and work.
  • MKDP, as landowner, is seeking a partner to work with, as well as with key parties and adjacent landowners, to develop and realise its future vision for MK Open Market
  • MKDP’s vision is for the market to evolve into a destination retail and leisure scheme, providing a dynamic, modern customer experience. Ideas to considered to achieve this have included:
    • food court open into the evening
    • creative workspaces
    • event space
  • MKDP is open to these and to other new ideas and to taking inspiration and learnings from other markets and mixed-use schemes around the world.
  • It is important that this future vision is developed in a way that also enhances the existing offer, which brings great social value and is an essential resource for a significant proportion of Milton Keynes’ residents, particularly those with lower incomes.
  • The market site also forms part of Milton Keynes Council’s wider aspirations for Midsummer Boulevard East – an exciting new ‘High Street’ for Milton Keynes, connecting the city’s existing key retail, leisure and cultural hubs to create a vibrant, diverse centre where visitors can meet, shop, eat and relax. There is opportunity to expand the market on both the current site’s western and eastern flanks, along Midsummer Boulevard, on land also owned by MKDP.
  • MKDP wants to maintain and build on the strengths of the existing market offer, whilst also expanding and diversifying it.
  • MKDP understands it will likely take some time to design and consult on the future plans for the market but it is vital that any development partner manages and strengthens the current market offer during this period.

  1. Current Open Market Site
  2. MKDP Land Development Opportunity
  3. Midsummer Boulevard East

MKDP is keen to hear from potential operational and development partners interested in this exciting opportunity. Activate – Workman Placemaking has been appointed to assess the initial level of interest ahead of a full tender process.

At this stage, MKDP is seeking views on the following questions:

MKDP is open to a long-term partnership of at least 10 years (with a 3-year minimum term and appropriate break clause dates thereafter). Whilst this is flexible, an illustrative programme might be:

  • Phase A:     Delivering core current market operation, whilst working with MKDP to define the future market and other potential uses, with an opportunity to deliver some short term enhancements
  • Phase B:     Continuing operation whilst delivering future potential uses and development
  • Phase C:     Full operation of final scheme

1. MKDP would welcome views on this, particularly on whether you feel this could best be served by a consortium of partners?  What would your preference be and what experience do you have of working in this way?

2. For a project of this nature, would you consider the opportunity if it was tendered:

  • as a lease arrangement or
  • a joint venture whereby both parties commit capital expenditure or
  • providing services under a management agreement?

Please give any comment on your preferred option and wider experience you have of entering into any of the three arrangements, whether positive or negative, including challenges encountered.


Please email activate@workman.co.uk, with your answers to the above questions, by 7 May 2022.

It is intended that a full tender process will be held during summer 2022.

Thank you for your interest.

[1] Milton Keynes Council website

[2] Milton Keynes Local Economic Assessment 2019

[3] Milton Keynes Retail Capacity & Leisure Study – 2018

[4] CMK Alliance Plan 2026, A Business Neighbourhood Development Plan for Central Milton Keynes (Oct 2014)

[5] Completely Retail website