Network Rail given green light

Plans to develop one of the most sustainable office buildings in the country were given the go-ahead as Network Rail’s new national centre received the stamp of approval from Milton Keynes’ planning authority.

The centre will bring together teams spread across numerous sites under one eco-friendly roof, improving the way Network Rail coordinates activities to build a bigger and better railway. Network Rail plans to house up to 3,000 employees at the centre, bringing new jobs to the area.

The 400,000 sq ft building will be constructed on the site of a former hockey stadium, revitalising an underused corner of Central Milton Keynes.

Commenting on the decision, Chief Executive Iain Coucher said: “Network Rail has made a big commitment to Milton Keynes in choosing the city as the home of our new national centre. Since making that decision we have been overwhelmed by the level of support we have received from all parts of the community.

“I’d like to offer personal thanks to the many hundreds of local people who took the time to speak to our project team or visit our website to have their say on our plans for Milton Keynes. Thanks in no small part to their feedback, we have got an exciting design for the national centre which will be one of the greenest buildings in the country and a stunning addition to Central Milton Keynes.”

John Lewis, Chief Executive of Milton Keynes Partnership, said: “This planning decision is very good news for Milton Keynes as it will pave the way for thousands of new jobs and give us a state of the art national centre.  Coming hot on the heels of Milton Keynes being chosen as a World Cup Host city and our outstanding performance in the recent ‘Cities Outlook’ report we have had a very confident start to 2010.”

Construction on site is expected to start in August, with the building scheduled to open in 2012. The design for the new building includes a host of eco-friendly features including extensive living roofs which will encourage diverse habitats for flora and fauna in the centre of the city and a rainwater harvesting system which will be used to flush toilets and irrigate landscaping.

Following a series of public consultation events held in the city in September, Network Rail incorporated a number of suggestions put forward by residents into the final design, including recharging points for electric vehicles and an allotment on site for fruit and vegetables.

Milton Keynes Partnership, the current owner of the site, has already made great progress in clearing the land to get it ready for development. Network Rail is working with Milton Keynes Partnership to salvage materials from the National Hockey Stadium which can be recycled in the national centre. Wherever possible, building materials will be sourced locally, cutting the number of lorries and further reducing the carbon footprint of the building.

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