MK:U - Planning and Design Guidance for Informal Consultation


B4 Shot


One of the Six Big Projects recommended by the MK Futures 2050 Commission in their ‘Making a Great City Greater’ report in July 2016 was the creation of a new undergraduate university for the city centre. Over the last two years, the project to get MK:U up and running has made great progress and the Council has secured Cranfield University as its lead higher education partner. 

With Block B4 secured for the university (including with an allocation in Plan:MK) we want to take the opportunity to create a truly exceptional development which will reflect the important role the institution will play in the future of the city.  To achieve that, we will shortly be launching an international design competition to secure the multi-disciplinary team that will develop an overall masterplan for the site and more detailed designs for the first phase of buildings on the site. 

The two stage competition will be run by Malcolm Reading Consultants, in partnership with Milton Keynes Council and Cranfield University.  Stage One of the competition launching at the end of January 2019 will allow teams to express their interest in entering the competition; they’ll set out who they would include in their team (for example architects, urban designers, landscape architects, structural engineer, planners etc.) and set out some of their past projects and their experience relevant to the MK:U competition brief.  These initial submissions will be reviewed and five or six teams will be shortlisted for Stage Two. It is during Stage Two that the shortlisted teams will be invited to prepare their proposals for the overall site masterplan and design concepts for the buildings that would be part of the first phase of development on the site (recognising that the whole masterplan will be built in two or three phases over the coming decades as the university expands).

Submissions from the shortlisted teams will be judged by an international jury of experts in a range of fields, including design, architecture and higher education, and the winning team will be appointed to work with MK:U to develop the final scheme and planning applications (which will be based on the designs they create through the competition).

In order to inform the work of the design teams through the competition, two documents will be produced by Malcolm Reading Consultants, informed by work currently underway by Cranfield University to understand the type, floorspace and number of different land uses and spaces needed for teaching, research, accommodation, support functions, and ancillary development as part of MK:U.  The competition documentation will also set out information about the overall vision of the institution and how it will function, which will impact on how the site should be developed. Importantly, the competition details will also explain the planning policy framework the development will need to respond to, the opportunities of the site and any parameters created by its context. 

Following a stakeholder roundtable on these planning and design-related issues, this consultation is the opportunity to comment on the information that is included in this part of the competition materials.  The consultation will run until Friday 9 November and comments should be sent by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The final version of this information will be included in the competition documentation alongside the other background information mentioned above that is being prepared over the coming months. These documents will be signed off by a technical panel of individuals from a range of disciplines that will be appointed to advise the judging panel for Stage Two.

As mentioned above, any comments on this document should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Friday 9 November.  If you have any further questions in the meantime, please get in touch with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 01908 252318.

MKU Draft Planning and Design Guidance to inform International Design Competition 


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