How New Is a New Town?
When you say something is a New Town, it makes everything sound new doesn’t it? Even the cows are concrete right? The truth is very different; and much more interesting.
Milton Keynes is two things at once: Car-centric and green, familiar and alien, home-grown and imported, historic and futuristic. As the current Scottish Poet Laureate, Jackie Kay, says, the city’s dual character is appealing: “The squares and the circles, the sacred and secular, the built landscape and park lands, the ecological and the creative. It’s a town built on a green ethos – they had a policy that if there was a well-established tree standing in the way, they would build the roads around it – and yet its public image is a bit of a joke. I like that.”
– The UK’s first solar powered house was opened in Bradville, Milton Keynes, in 1972
– The UK’s first multiplex cinema was opened in the city in 1985
– Milton Keynes was first place in the UK to require all new developments (homes and buildings) to be carbon neutral
– Milton Keynes Theatre is the most popular theatre in the UK outside London
– The city was the first in the UK to introduce kerbside recycling, back in 1992
– The Open University, the biggest academic institution in the UK, started in 1969, since when more than 2 million students have studied its courses around the world
– The first time driverless cars made it out of the lab and onto the streets was in Milton Keynes in 2016. Driverless taxis (‘pods’) joined them in 2018. What will be next?