Agora Redevelopment

23/03/22

Goody Demolition have published a letter to residents informing them of the latest updates regarding the demolition of the Agora. You can read this below. 

Dear Neighbour, 

Please be advised that: Goody Demolition Ltd
Having been employed by Milton Keynes Council will shortly be commencing with the demolition works for the vacant shopping centre situated at:
The Agora Centre
Church Street,
Wolverton,
MK12 5GL

Site Set-Up will commence on the 28/03/2022 and following this the works will continue for 22 weeks.

Over the next few weeks we will be installing fencing, setting up our staff welfare units and erecting wooden hoarding around the site perimeter. Following this we will begin the process of internally stripping the building, prior to carrying out the structural demolition. Further letters will be distributed with updates throughout the Project.

This is to ready the site for the Milton Keynes Council ‘Love Wolverton’ Agora Regeneration Development that will provide new homes, shops and community space.

We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause and will endeavour to carry out these works as quickly and quietly as safety will allow. The site will be registered with the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS).

Goody will use the site itself for parking of vehicles and Church Street / Radcliffe Street for vehicle movements, avoiding busy times wherever possible. If for any reason a vehicle has to wait before entering the site, we will ensure that this will be in an area which will not cause issues for other road users and will turn off their engine whilst waiting.

COVID-19 – Goody Demolition Ltd operate robust safety procedures to keep our staff and the general public safe throughout our operations.

 Goody will ensure that the site has debris netting and/or screens erected around the perimeter, and will operate dust suppression and noise monitoring to reduce any environmental concerns to our neighbours.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to telephone our Contracts Manager James Wall on 07921 465888 or our Head Office directly at 01304 840126.

Thank you for your understanding,

Kindest Regards

James Wall

Contracts Manager'


11/02/22

The demolition works began at site on the 9th February. These will be internal for now, so there will be very little to see from the outside. WGTC have been in contact with the developers and the demolition contractors, and plans are progressing for some sort of ceremony before the external work begins. Once we have further details on this we will let you know. 

 

There will be eight new retail units to let as part of the development, some of which are still available. Punch Retail are currently managing this, any interested applicants should contact Punch Retail or TOWN directly via guy@wearetown.co.uk or Punch’s website

27/01/22

We have received notice that the demolition works for the Agora will commence on the 09/02/2022 and will continue for 22 weeks. 

18/01/22

A new mailing list will be set up to comply with GDPR as TOWN have taken ownership of the Love Wolverton project. To re-register for future updates please visit the Love Wolverton website.

22/12/21

MKC Planning Department have today given the go ahead for the plans submitted by TOWN to redevelop the site of the Agora and its adjacent car park to provide 115 new homes, which will include a dedicated cohousing site, nine ground floor commercial and community units, along with the reinstatement of Radcliffe Street between Church Street and Buckingham Street and The Square. The development will also include associated areas of hard and soft landscaping, car and cycle parking. We expect demolition works to begin early next year. 

05/08/21

Decision due to be made by MKC for the AGORA redevelopment on the 5th August 2021 

MKC DCC voted in favour of the re-development of the Agora site. The 'Final' decision came down to the casting vote of the Chair of the Committee, despite concerns raised about the parking issues posed. 

05/08/20

TOWN have recommenced the design work for the development, with a view to submit a planning app later this year - no firm date as yet. TOWN have also completed the tender process for the demolition of the building and will set out a timescale for these works in due course. They are also working with Still Green Cohousing on the development of an apartment block for the over 55s visit the Still Green Cohousing website for further information.

03/20

Retail and Home Layout Plans- a formal planning application has not yet been submitted but is due to be submitted to MK Council in the first quarter of 2020. You can view the first retail layout plan and the second retail layout plan

23/12/19

MKC Planning give the thumbs up for the demolition of the Agora site.  "The proposed development is considered on balance to accord with the policy requirements of the development plan and the National Planning Policy Framework. In accordance with the presumption in favour of sustainable development, it is therefore recommended that planning permission for the demolition of the Agora Centre is granted as its demolition is considered to enhance the setting of the listed buildings and the character and appearance of the conservation area..... In addition the applicant TOWN and Milton Keynes Council, as part land owner of the wider site, have entered into a contract that sets out a timescale for the applicant to deliver the new development on the site via a building lease, it requires the applicant to submit the planning application for a scheme MKC approves as land owner within the set time again ensuring the new development is delivered". MK Council have agreed proposals to remodel Church Street to create a one-way system and 67 additional car parking spaces in St. George's Way for the Town Centre and residents following the Redevelopment of the Agora. You can view the full report on the MK Council website. Previously the Agora was refused the request to be listed by Historic England. You can learn more about the Agora redevelopment by checking out the Love Wolverton website.

08/05/19

Hoardings to protect the Agora site from potential vandalism have been erected around the site. The hoarding of the building is necessary for the new owners to comply with the terms of their public liability insurance and the hoardings serve to take reasonable steps to prevent access to / climbing of the building. As a result the area to the west of the building was identified as a key risk area both for unobserved access and potential anti-social behaviour, and unfortunately means that the back entrance via the old Co-Op to Buckingham St is no longer accessible by foot. The alternative entrance route is opposite the bus stops on Church St.

08/04/19

Works to be undertaken on exploratory borehole for the examination of buried services or foundations around site using a rotary drilling method map of the site to be examined here.

02/04/19

TOWN have now completed the purchase of the Agora site and are looking forward to next part of their journey, see the press release from TOWN

22/03/19

Market Traders trade from the Square and units are emptied from the Agora. Following notice from Leyland Holdings to the Market Traders from the Agora Friday market, they have now relocated to their new home in The Square. A great sense of community spirit was certainly observed with some new faces and plenty of the regular customers popping by to purchase goods from the stalls. All of the businesses have now left the Agora following eviction notices. WGTC have managed to assist some of these businesses to new or shared premises so that they can continue to trade.

13/03/19

Notice Served to the Agora businesses and traders. The Agora has served notice to all of it tenants and market traders. It is now confirmed that the Agora will cease to trade from 18th March. The market traders last trading date in front of the Agora is confirmed as the 15th March. However WGTC have been working behind the scenes to assist those businesses affected by this news to relocate to new or available premises around the parish. The market traders will relocate to The Square, beginning 22nd March. 

03/19

Stakeholder Meeting. A well attended and organised event from TOWN, the new owners of the Agora site. The full day workshop invited the various stakeholders and representations of the community, including students from the Radcliffe School to be a part the evolving development of this site. The workshops aim was to provide an overview of where the development is at and what it can bring to the town of Wolverton.

There were several briefings, which included an update on the history and heritage of Wolverton, by Bill Griffiths and the current vision of Milton Keynes and how Wolverton fits with this, along with the report on the parking flows both at the Agora car park and around the town, this was then followed by a walkabout to the areas proposed for development.

Following this, all of the stakeholders were invited to discuss the proposed development that the architects had provided so far through thematic work groups, with the focus on the new buildings and the spaces between by working with maps and building blocks in a range of groups. This allowed all of the groups to provide comments and ideas on how best the development could move forwards, along with the students creating designs for new terraced style housing that would be in-keeping with the town.

The day in itself was a positive move for the town and those that were in attendance felt engaged and that they had a voice that the developer would listen to. There is now a rough timeline in place for when developments at the site will begin.

12/11/18

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

12/17

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 

03/16

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.

Agora Redevelopment Plans

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.

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

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:

02.09.19 Meeting

03.06.19 Meeting

18.03.19 Minutes to be agreed

18.02.19 Meeting

MKC Development Review meeting 19.01.19

14.01.19 Meeting

10.12.18 Meeting

13.11.18 Meeting

14.05.18 Meeting

05.02.18 Meeting

 

A 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 sought to ensure that Wolverton’s centre, remained at the heart of the town, as a vibrant, attractive and distinctive Neighbourhood with a variety of retail, commercial, cultural, and leisure uses that reflects the town’s rich and a proud railway heritage along with 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.