English Heritage has recommended that Hermes and Prupim’s Centre:MK be Grade II* listed in an unprecedented move which would see 1km of Milton Keynes’s town centre protected from demolition.

The heritage protection body made the recommendation to the Department for Media Culture and Sport (DCMS) following an application from conservation body the Twentieth Century Society.

Centre:MK provides more than 240 stores and combined with neighbouring centre Midsummer Place has more than 1.79m sq ft of retail space. In May this year Hermes and Prupim submitted a joint planning application for the start of a £20m redevelopment programme at the shopping centre including an application for the £10m redevelopment of Queens Court, a public open square.

Any decision to list the centre, which is 30 years old next year, will not only affect future plans for redevelopment but could have a dramatic impact on its value. A listing may also impact surrounding buildings if they impact the view or setting in which centre:MK is situated. Only 4% of all listed buildings in the UK are subject to a grade II* listing.

Decision pending
A decision will be made by the DCMS on whether to list Centre:MK within the next two weeks and it does not have to follow the advice of English Heritage.

Centre:MK has had three listing applications in the past 10 years and is currently subject to a building management agreement between the owners, English Heritage and Milton Keynes Council. However, as it is now nearly 30 years old it can be considered for listing purposes.

Precedent setting
Jon Weymouth, development director of the Centre:MK, said it hoped the DCMS rejected the advice to list the building: ‘We know this building promotes strong views but we feel the management guidelines protect the building. The joint owners have followed the guidelines to the letter and have gone the extra mile too and we feel that’s why it should continue.

‘The centre is a very prominent building on a ridge and a listing would effectively list an entire town centre…which is a dangerous precedent. It will affect all the areas of land surrounding it and will act to stifle what can happen in central Milton Keynes. This is a designated growth zone and a listing will fly in the face of all local and national government policies.’

Hermes and Prupim have made three representations to the DCMS following English Heritage’s recommendation.

The Twentieth Century Society, which has statutory consultee status, claims the management agreement has been eroded and should be listed.

It has also applied for Grade II* listing for the US embassy building in London’s Grosvenor Square.

English Heritage declined to comment on Centre:MK. However, it said it was still considering the US embassy application and would submit its recommendation to the DCMS by Christmas.