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New simplified planning at Milton Park to pave way for further life science and technology investment

One of Europe’s largest science and technology communities is in line for more jobs, business investment opportunities, and improved sustainability thanks to an updated planning document.

Vale of White Horse District Council has voted to adopt an updated Local Development Order (LDO) for Milton Park subject to a legal agreement being finalised. Once adopted, the updated order will help to fast-track planning approvals, and unlock even more of the award-winning science and technology community’s potential.

The council aims to adopt the updated LDO in the coming months, helping to build on the site’s existing success and ensuring Milton Park remains a thriving hub for new and growing businesses.

LDOs help the district council, as the Local Planning Authority, to set the overall design of a site and speed up the planning process for preferred types of development. They also set conditions for development, including building size and design, and associated facilities like roads and landscaping.

Following extensive consultation including local communities in nearby villages, the updated Milton Park LDO includes plans for business and employment opportunities, such as laboratories, offices, shops, cafés and a nursery. It would also increase floor space for businesses and allow increased building heights in certain parts of Milton Park.

With a strong focus on sustainability, the new LDO would also expect new developments to be designed in a way that reduces their carbon footprint and incorporates low or zero carbon energy technology where possible.

Before the updated LDO is formally adopted, the owner of Milton Park, MEPC, will need to enter into a legal agreement, known as Section 106, to provide financial contributions towards improved bus services, new cycle and walking pathways, health care services, and road upgrades where necessary.

James Iles from Provision, Anna Fletcher from MEPC Milton Park, Cllr Debby Hallett and Cllr Eric de la Harpe from Vale of White Horse District Council, Philip Campbell and Kathryn Andrew from MEPC Milton Park
Members from the MEPC Milton Park team and Vale of White Horse District Council with 3D model of the Park (L-R: James Iles, Anna Fletcher, Cllr Debby Hallett, Cllr Eric de la Harpe, Philip Campbell and Kathryn Andrew).

Cllr Debby Hallett, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Transformation at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “I’m pleased we are taking this innovative approach to planning in Milton Park to help foster new job opportunities, boost the local economy, cut red tape for preferred development and introduce more measures to help us tackle the climate emergency.

“I want to thank everyone who had their say in last year’s community consultation for the LDO and I look forward to continue to see our vision for Milton Park come to life.”

Philip Campbell, Commercial Director at MEPC Milton Park, said: “Simplifying planning is complicated and in my view the Vale of White Horse District Council is a trail blazer for embracing this second generation of ten-day, fast-track planning. I believe the new LDO will be the most comprehensive simplified planning regime anywhere in the UK, setting the benchmark for other local authorities to follow.

“It will play a crucial part in supporting the council’s Corporate Plan and Milton Park’s 2040 Vision – a framework for guiding the Park towards innovation district status, positioning itself as one of the most flexible locations for science and technology companies to establish and grow.

“With recent research from Beauhurst confirming the Park’s life science companies have secured an impressive 7.56% of the UK’s total equity investment in the sector over the last decade, the new LDO will allow us to further support this ‘golden age’ of life sciences and technology by delivering industry-grade spaces with the necessary agility.”

Cllr Andy Cooke, ward member for Drayton which includes Milton Village, said: “The extra sustainability measures in the Milton Park LDO to reduce our carbon footprint, encourage sustainable travel and take action against climate change are exciting and welcome.

“I’m aware there has been concern from residents regarding the LDO but the council has listened to feedback from the local community and I’m pleased that it’s been taken on board. The LDO further streamlines and simplifies planning applications to encourage Milton Park’s evolution with development still reviewed by council as the Planning Authority”.

Notes to editors

The updated Milton Park LDO will further align the site with council’s vision in the Local and Corporate Plans and Milton Park’s 2040 Vision. The LDO will expire in 2041, which aligns with the period envisaged for the proposed Joint Local Plan. The LDO is to be reviewed every five years.