Happy birthday Milton Keynes! Fifty years young

It’s not every day that an entire town gets to celebrate its birthday, but that’s exactly what Milton Keynes is doing this January – on the 23rd to be exact. Because 2017, marks this town’s 50th anniversary since it’s designation as a ‘new town’ way back in 1967. But Milton Keynes wasn’t the only new town that developed between 1946 and 1970, and some have fared better than others.

A bit of background

Here’s the history bit. New towns came about after the 1946 New Towns Act which was a huge programme of building not just houses, but entire (yep, you’ve guessed it) towns. Everything from roads, industrial areas, and pavements were designed, planned and then developed. It was to answer the desperate shortage of homes after entire communities were destroyed in the Second World War. Today, these towns across the country house two million people.

What mid-life crisis?

So, apart from turning 50, what’s so great about Milton Keynes then? Well, it was part of the ‘third generation’ of new towns that sprung up in the late 1960s and 70s and it’s a town of many firsts. The world’s first distance learning university – The Open University was founded nearby in 1969. In 1979, the country’s first shopping centre (as we know them today) was opened, and in 1985, the first multiplex cinema opened here too – that’s got to be worth celebrating.

But whilst Milton Keynes is hardly a tourist destination or town that inspires odes of romance to be written about it unlike London; it’s actually done pretty well for itself. Since it was ‘born’ in 1967, its population has boomed by 81% - the fastest growth of any new town. And the reason for its success? It simply… works. In fact, Milton Keynes considers its location to be one of the prime reasons for its success – halfway between London and Birmingham it also has good transport links. Almost all residents (97%) also have super-fast broadband thanks to a council investment programme. But not only does it have a decent infrastructure, its town planners are also flexible enough to see and accommodate changes in local needs – vital for any community.

Not all new towns are a success

Out of all the new towns created, those in the south east have experienced the biggest growth in value – Welwyn Garden City tops the list along with fellow garden city sibling, Letchworth. However, with every success story, there are those that ‘could do better’. Sadly, some of their northern cousins, such as Cumbernauld in Scotland, haven’t done so well.

Poor old Cumbernauld has won awards for being so badly designed and was even once voted by the public to be demolished; suggesting that just because something’s been designed, doesn’t always mean it’s going to work. And new towns are often sniggered at for being a bit…well…ugly – there’s no nice way of saying it. Even with ‘garden city’ slapped on the end of a name, there’s no hiding the grey slabs once the floral blooms have shrivelled up and died.

The eye of the beholder

But whether you’d consider Milton Keynes just another concrete jungle (even if it is a remarkably well equipped one with a snowdome and ice hockey arena); the 255,700 people that live there probably love it. And besides, home is where the heart is, and when you love something you want to protect it; so regardless of whether you live in a new town, old town or teeny, tiny village, make sure your home is covered and comparethemarket.com

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