Wolverton Works will probably be demolished over the next three years or so unless the China Railway Rolling Stock Company becomes the Works' operator benefitting from a lease negotiated to last up to 25 years if the rumours are true. No new major orders have ben announced for a long time now at Wolverton.
NOTE: You are legally allowed to take photographs from the public car park by the Community Centre/Bath House despite Knorr-Bremse security guards actions.
There is another planning meeting on 25th September 2017. This will be the last chance to save the buildings.
From Andrew McLean, Head Curator of the National Railway Museum
Wolverton Works was established in 1838 and by 1907 was the largest railway building and repair works in Britain. Wolverton was one of the first Railway towns and connected to some of Britain’s most significant figures in the 19th century, including Robert Stephenson and Lord Wolverton of Glyn’s Bank fame.
It is the UK town most closely connected to the Royal Train, and some of these Wolverton carriages, amongst the World’s most significant and influential rail vehicles, are in the National Collection based at the National Railway Museum.
Wolverton played a significant role in building, maintaining and repairing military vehicles and Ambulance Trains in both World Wars, and was home to Britain’s last steam tramway.
The site presents significant evidential, historical and communal value, all recognised core conservation principles and collectively, the remaining Wolverton Works buildings are an incredibly important survival.
Many of the most significant losses to Britain’s Built-heritage in the past half century have been railway sites - now much lamented. But with recent developments at St Pancras and King’s Cross, plus smaller developments such as at Stirling and Hexham, that position has changed.
There is clear evidence that a sensitively handled re-development of former railway buildings can become an important and attractive asset, acting as a catalyst of significant social and economic regeneration.
Wolverton has already lost some of its buildings. I believe that those now at risk should be looked at again in the context of a changing and deeper understanding of Britain’s railway and royal heritage.
I would add that:
Wolverton Works is the oldest longest continuously open railway works in the World. The UK’s newest railway works near Darlington, opened last year by Hitachi, follows a similar layout and operational working methods to Wolverton.
My 9 professional assignments inside Wolverton Works, ranging from assessing the Royal Train 19 years ago to being asked to write the 175th anniversary book in 2013 has given me a unique Wolverton insight.
The G L Hearn Wolverton Works Employment Assumption is factually incorrect as clearly demonstrated in my 8 October objection, using photographs to literally illustrate my points.
Employment has quadrupled to 490 and in the last month, the Lifting Shop cranes have been brought back into use and the traversers upgraded. The new proposed Works design will include traversers and require higher levels of internal vehicle shunting than now.
The assertion that Knorr-Bremse will relocate without new buildings is also factually incorrect. Earlier this year, Knorr-Bremse’s Nick Brailey told me we will not relocate if we have to keep using the existing buildings.
The application is factually incorrect, against planning policy W3 and therefore should be refused or deferred.
St Modwen's contractor has commenced the demolition of Wolverton Works. The first building to go was an insignificant 1960's brick building. It was demolished 'in error' St Modwen has said.
Enquires revealed that St Modwen’s land clearance contractors, Tomlinsons had ‘misunderstood’ their remit demolishing a 397 sq metre building without planning consent. Milton Keynes Council planners were made aware of this and written to saying St Modwen will have to apply for retrospective planning consent for this demolition.
Milton Keynes Council’s Interim Development Management Manager Katy Lycett said that:
The demolition of certain buildings will need approval from the local planning authority beforehand. In this case, being in a conservation area, an application for planning permission should have been submitted for consideration. Unfortunately St Modwen failed, by apparent genuine error, to carry out this process. We have made them aware of the concerns the Council has regarding this matter and have sought their full explanation.
The Council sought and investigated their own information and have considered the information from St Modwen. There is an acceptance of error on behalf of the developers in demolishing this building, and an apology for their actions. The reason was given as an error by contractors who have mistakenly included these works in their remit. [Who included what incorrectly in the remit has not been explained despite the Council being asked].
Officers have considered all the facts and feel, in their view, that the developer should now be required to submit a retrospective application for these works. It is noted that such an application will not enable the reinstatement of the building which has been removed. St Modwen has offered a genuine reason with an apology for the works and the Council have accepted the reasons given. They are to be made fully aware of their error and advised that if, in the future, any other works are carried out on site without the correct approval that the Council will act swiftly to seek an urgent resolution which may include any relevant enforcement action necessary.
St Modwen said; "Due to a regrettable error, a flat-roofed 1960’s/70’s toilet block was wrongly demolished as part of the works to deliver the new Lidl. We have been in discussions with Milton Keynes Council planning officers and will now be submitting a retrospective planning application for its demolition. We have apologised formally for the mistake and have reassured the Council that no further demolition will take place, without the correct permissions in place.
Now you see it, now you don't. The 397sq metre building was demolished in the last week of July. Left, note the glass pane sticking up in the air. Surely being in a Conservation Area such dereliction of legal duty by St Modwen or their tennant Knorr Bremse is illegal?