THE Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Park can provide a unique opportunity to create new green infrastructure according to the National Infrastructure Commission’s final report on planning for economic growth in the Oxford/Cambridge/Milton Keynes corridor.
Over the past year the NIC has been looking into the ways in which economic growth and housing delivery can be speeded up across the whole corridor.
The proposed Waterway Park sits at its heart, between Bedford and Milton Keynes providing a unique opportunity for thinking big and planning across boundaries.
Whilst the report emphasises the need for improved road and rail connections it also points to the need for strong ‘placemaking’ including new green space to help establish places where people want to live and work.
Taking the Waterway Park as a unique example of planning for green infrastructure at a strategic level the report states: “The scale of growth and the opportunities created through greater arc-wide
collaboration on planning means that there is unique opportunity to take a large-scale strategic view of natural capital and biodiversity net gain opportunities.
“Projects such as the established Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Park could offer such an opportunity to create a green infrastructure asset which contributes to wider placemaking objectives.”
The report also points to the need to work across Local Authority boundaries to achieve the best outcomes for local communities. The Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Consortium already work across boundaries.
The Waterway Park also has the potential to contribute to economic growth and establish new links between communities. It will provide a continuous route between Bedford and Milton Keynes for wide range of both leisure and commuting including;- walking, horse riding and cycling.
Welcoming the report Trust chair Jane Hamilton said: “The NIC’s recognition of the role that the Waterway Park can play in creating new places is a very significant step forward for the Trust and the wider Consortium of partners who support the project.
“We are already working across boundaries to establish the Waterway Park as a crucial part of planning for new settlements. We
have made submissions to the NIC outlining the massive benefits that a new Waterway can make to the Marston Vale in establishing new parkland and increased biodiversity on a major scale’. The Trust will be working to ensure that the Waterway is included in any new
strategic plans for the future.”