The History of the Agora

 

Opened in 1979 the 'Agora' was heralded as the new development from Milton Keynes Development Corporation (MKDC) which would radically revitalise the Town Centre in Wolverton and provide much needed regeneration of the town as the rest of Milton Keynes began to grow and develop.   

The demolition of the terraced houses and shops to pave way for the colossal red bricked building, only served to severe the town in half.  The Square set at the heart of the town along with other retail units became cut off from the rest of the town and within ten years concerns were raised because of the “…gradual deterioration in the attractiveness of Wolverton as a shopping centre”…with two significant factors; “..the poor appearance of the physical environment and the poor range and types of shops within the Agora centre”

The Agora has been privately owned since 1988 with the freehold of the car park being transferred back to MKDC, but a lack of investment into the building had seen it decline further, and ran by various companies. During this time Wolverton become recognised as a conservation area (2011) and the adoption of the Wolverton's Neighbourhood Plan in 2015 seeks to ensure that Wolverton’s centre, remains at the heart of the town, is a vibrant, attractive and distinctive Neighbourhood with a variety of retail, commercial, cultural, and leisure uses that reflects the town’s rich and proud railway heritage and its diverse business and residential population”

In 2014 a change in the leadership at MKC enabled cabinet to reconsider a revised strategy to bring forward the redevelopment of the Agora and take seriously the proposals that were put forward I the neighbourhood plan – Two developers Brickhill Estates and TOWN became interested.

Evolvement of the Development

Background to the Agora Redevelopment

Current status of the Agora

March 2016 - Planning permission was granted in principle to Brickhill Estates for the demolition of the existing AGORA building and construction of a new mixed use development, retaining 90 car parking spaces for the town and 100 residential homes, however the applicant decided not to proceed with this development, and since this time another developer TOWN has become interested in the development

December 2017 Update - A meeting was held by MKC on the 22nd December regards the plans for the sale of the Agora Car Park; this was attended by representatives of WGTC and local businesses and community representatives.

WGTC are in support of the development of the Agora, but understand that the car park has been earmarked for a predominantly residential development, meaning the loss of the current free parking within the Town centre.

The car park was leased by MKC who owned the freehold of this to the AGORA, and had been approached by the developer to sell the freehold to them for development. At the meeting held it was agreed that, MKC would sell the car park to town for an agreed figure, but this would be subject to the following stringent conditions:

i – Setting up a working committee, representing local and community interests for the development

ii – That any developments are subject to planning permission being agreed by MKC

12.11.18 Deal struck with UK-Swedish development team for £25m Agora regeneration.  You can view the press release here


 

Meeting January 2019

The Working Group met to discuss the ongoing proposed development for the Agora and its car park on 14.01.19.  At this meeting it has was agreed to hold a stakeholder Workshop at the end of February, which will involve the Local Businesses within Wolverton. 

Plans are afoot to undertake a traffic management survey on Church Street, Creed Street and Radcliffe Street along with 24-hour survey of the current car park at the Agora to assess the traffic flow and the usage of the car park, before the end of February.

ANPR's are now in place, along with "The Beat" survey which is providing critical information for the developer to asses the traffic coming into and out of the Town Centre along with the usage of the the Agora Car Park.  This is a scheme that includes a manned patrol of the area mapping of the Agora, this involves mapping out each of its bays every 15 minutes to asses the type of usage.  This initial results for this are not expected to be available until before the Stakeholder meeting.

Following the last meeting held prior to the Christmas break, draft plans for the proposed parking schemes were revealed. As part of the proposal the Agora car park will be redeveloped for housing. The Working Group are currently looking at the options to mitigate the loss of the car parking for the town, see the attached plan which the developer has provided

WGTC welcomes your feedback on this proposal and we would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please forward any comments on this to us by email

Agora Transport Working Group

From the beginning of the development stage in 2015 when Brickhill’s first provided their plans for the development of the Agora Site, there has been an active Working Group, which is made up of individuals who represent the local community and the Town Council. They help by providing suggestions and comments to help shape the development.

Minutes from Agora TWG

Please see below a brief overview of all the meetings held with the Working Group and the minutes as approved.


December 2018

The next TWG meeting is due to be held early December, of which it is hoped will address the car park and the plans for the site at the AGORA

November 2018 update

Prior to the meeting held with the TWG, the above press statement was released regarding the exchange of contracts for the AGORA and the car park.

The TWG were unable to discuss the car park as there were lengthy discussions on the contract.

May 2018 - TWG Meeting Update

The second TWG meeting was held provided feedback on restrictions on parking at Tescos and at Lidl's

A report on business requirements for traffic and parking would be provided by Kings Community Centre

Jan 2018 The Agora Car Park development - Update

The first Transport Working Group Meeting was held, chaired by Cllr Middleton following the delegated decision by MKC. Two representatives from each of the following were allowed to attend:

  • Churches Together
  • Wolverton and Greenleys Town Council
  • Future Wolverton

Please see below the minutes from all the meetings held:

14.01.19 Meeting    To be provided after next meeting

14.12.18 Meeting await update

13.11.18 Meeting   

14.05.18 Meeting

05.02.18 Meeting