Milton Keynes Council has published a strategy setting out plans to accommodate a projected increase in its population of nearly 60 per cent over the next 30 years and an expansion of the town's metropolitan area into neighbouring authorities.
The Milton Keynes Strategy for 2050 predicts the population of the "metropolitan Milton Keynes city area", which includes settlements in the neighbouring local authority areas of South Northamptonshire, Aylesbury Vale and Central Bedfordshire, could rise from 315,000 to 500,000.
Around 41,000 new homes are planned for in the existing and emerging local plans of councils in the region, the strategy says, adding that a further 46,000 homes will be needed to accommodate growth over the next 30 years.
"Averaged across the 30 years to 2050, this would be around 2,900 new homes built each year across the metropolitan Milton Keynes area," the strategy says.
"This is a modest increase on the existing delivery average to 2030 of 2,700 homes each year."
The strategy states that it "is not a formal planning policy document", "has no weight in the planning process" and "is not a material consideration in the determination of planning applications".
However, Milton Keynes Council said the document will be used to inform its own policies and said it hoped other local authorities in the region would "consider the spatial framework and policy directions set out in this strategy, and where appropriate adopt them into statutory planning policy".
The document states that its recommended growth strategy for 2050 "has been prepared on a ‘boundary blind’ basis, as a sensible and sustainable pattern of growth, which in some cases includes recommendations for areas outside of Milton Keynes Council’s control".
It adds: "These are draft proposals generated by Milton Keynes Council alone and in no way commits those local planning authorities to bring forward growth in that way. Through the plan-making process, it will be for the individual local planning authorities across the Metropolitan Milton Keynes area to consider the spatial framework and policy directions set out in this strategy, and where appropriate adopt them into statutory planning policy."
Publication of the draft strategy follows adoption of Plan:MK, the Milton Keynes local plan, which proposes the delivery of 26,500 new homes up to 2031, in March last year.
Consultation on the draft strategy will take place until 17 April 2020.
The document notes that uncertainty over projects such as the Oxford-Cambridge expressway could have an impact on its contents and says it has been "prepared with the best available knowledge at this point in time".
David Bainbridge, Oxford-based planning director at Savills, described the strategy as "quite bold", adding: "In geographical terms, it extends well beyond the current boundary of MK Council into the likes of South Northamptonshire District, Central Bedfordshire and Aylesbury Vale District."
The strategy "does not have explicit buy-in from the wider stakeholders but it is welcome to see a vision being put out there for comment", he said.
However, Bainbridge also predicted that the strategy’s impact on towns such as Bedford, Northampton and Buckingham meant it "could be controversial".