As Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and valuers we have carried out Building Surveys (formerly known as a Structural Survey) and RICS Homebuyer Surveys (commonly referred to as a Homebuyer Report) in Milton Keynes for over 20 years.
Housing in Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes was formally designated as a “New Town” in 1967 to cater for the London overspill. It was intended to become a “City” in scale. This new urban area was to incorporate the existing towns of Bletchley, Wolverton and Stony Stratford along with fifteen other villages. It took its name from the existing village of Milton Keynes.
Although Milton Keynes has a large number of modern privately owned housing estates a high proportion of housing was developed by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation. Large numbers of social housing were built between 1970 and 1990 of which a high percentage were of non-traditional construction.
For instance the Netherfield area, built in 1971 is of prefabricated construction which was partly as a consequence of a shortage of bricks. The houses are of loadbearing timber framework clad with corrugated metal sheeting. The walls are quite thin and the fact that the cladding is metal as opposed to brick may mean that some lenders will not provide mortgages on them.
As can be seen from the photographs that these houses were built with flat roofs. In fact many of Development Corporation built three storey houses were built with flat roofs but subsequently the roofs were replaced with conventionally constructed pitched roofs.
The nearby Beanhill area comprises virtually all bungalows of similar construction being loadbearing timber framed with corrugated metal cladding.
Areas such as Greenleys and Galley Hill (Stony Stratford) consist of poured concrete systems clad with brick. They have pitched roofs. The houses in Greenleys were built as semi and terraced houses with the terraces being built around a quadrangle.
Eaglestone was built in the 1980s and is unique in that it is mostly “off road” with houses surrounding picturesque parks with childrens’ play areas.
If you are looking for an older traditional style Victorian and Edwardian terrace house or a typical 1930s house then you have to look towards the older Towns which make up Milton Keynes such as Wolverton and Bletchley. This is one of the many streets of Victorian and late Edwardian terrace houses which use to house the railway worker when Wolverton was a major centre for the railways. These are popular houses because they have the character which is lacking in most Milton Keynes houses.
Energy World was a demonstration project of 51 low-energy houses constructed in the Shenley Lodge area in 1986. This house formed part of the original Energy World Exhibition. The project was promoted by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation and culminated in a public exhibition that attracted international interest. It was a significant landmark in the design and construction of low-energy housing, and in the development of energy efficiency evaluation tools. It has had a long-term impact on Government policy and within the national house-building industry, insofar as the progressive ‘tightening up’ of the energy section of the Building Regulations has largely been founded on this pioneering work.
The houses were designed to be at least 30% more efficient than the Building regulations then in force. The architecture and technologies used was very varied, and included designs from Canada (the first R-2000 house in the UK), Denmark, Finland, Germany, and Sweden. Although it was later removed, the exhibition also featured a wind turbine, then an uncommon sight.
Energy World was one of several low-energy projects built in the Milton Keynes area. These included trials on a number of individual houses and the construction of 177 houses in the 1970s Pennyland project. Following the success of Energy World, 1,200 dwellings were built to the same (or better) energy standard in the rest of Shenley Lodge (known as ‘the EnergyPark’), and the same standard was subsequently applied City-wide.
Because there is so much new housing in Milton Keynes there have been attempts to introduce innovative and high efficiency houses from time to time. One such scheme which strays widely from the appearance of conventional housing is in the OxleyPark area where some eco-friendly housing has been built.
Also a high percentage of houses are built of timber loadbearing framework with an outer cladding of brickwork. These are difficult to tell apart from a house of conventional construction. Similarly, in Bletchley there are some 1950s steel framed houses which are clad in brick and look just like a typical conventionally built 1950s council house.
Because Milton Keynes has swallowed up 15 villages there are pockets of very old village houses still remaining. For instance these houses are in the old village of Milton Keynes in an idyllic village setting yet surrounded by the Milton Keynes urban area.
The original design guidance for Milton Keynes declared that “no building would be taller than the tallest tree”. However, it was subsequently decided that Central Milton Keynes needed “landmark” buildings and the height restriction was eventually lifted. The Hub which was built in 2006 has the tallest glass tower and is fourteen stories. It is in the central business district and It contains commercial premises at the lower levels and residential apartments to the upper levels.
As touched upon above, there are large areas of Milton Keynes Development Corporation housing and much of this is of non-traditional construction being poured concrete systems and timber framed systems. They are, more often than not, brick clad and to the lay-person will look like a conventionally built house. A RICS Homebuyer Report or Building Survey will identify the type of construction. Please note that the Homebuyer Survey is not suitable for some forms of non-traditional construction.
Local Property Issues in Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes is not within the coal fields and therefore there are no problems with ground stability caused by Coal mining past or present. There are areas of shrinkable clays and in some locations this can be particularly shrinkable leaving the properties vulnerable to subsidence. This can also be exacerbated by the dense tree planting undertaken by the MK Development Corporation. Trees and shrubs take large amounts of water out of the ground causing clay subsoils to shrink. These tend to be isolated issues and are not widespread. However, a Homebuyer Report or Building Survey will advise you of any past or present subsidence issues.
A common cause of movement in property is defective drains particularly experienced again in older property. As most of Milton Keynes consists of modern property this is not a widespread problem.
In summary, most houses can be susceptible to some form of movement whether it be initial shrinkage and settlement for more serious forms such as subsidence. It is the purpose of the Building Survey or Homebuyer Report to identify any form of movement and to determine whether it is ongoing serious problem.
The Growth of Milton Keynes
At the 2001 census the population of Milton Keynes urban area, including adjacent Newport Pagnell was 184,506. In January 2004 plans were announced to double the population of Milton Keynes by 2026. In 2011 the Borough’s population had increased to 248,821 with most of the growth arising in the urban area.
Homesurv Ltd’s coverage of Milton Keynes
MK1 – Denbigh
MK2 – East Bletchley
MK3 – West Bletchley,
MK4 – Woodhill, Oxlely, Kingsmead, Westcroft, Furzton, EmersonValley
MK5 – ShenleyChurch End, Medbourne, Shenley Brook End, Shenley Lodge
MK6 – Netherfield, Beanhill, TinkersBridge
MK7 – Walton, Walnut Tree
MK8 – Two Mile Ash, Great Holm, Crownhill
MK9 – Central Milton Keynes
MK10 – Middleton, Monkston, Woolstone
MK11 – Stony Stratford
MK12 – Wolverton
MK13 – New Bradwell, Bancroft, Bradville
MK14 – Great Linford, Conniburrow
MK15 – Tongwell, Willen, Downs Barn, Neath Hill
MK16 – Newport Pagnell
MK19 – Castlethorpe and Haversham