This plan for the new city of Milton Keynes is the culmination of the ideas and thinking of many people; for it takes all sorts to make a city, to design it and build it, and to live in it.

The Plan for Milton Keynes, Volume One, March 1970
A map of colourful dots outlining the original designated area of Milton Keynes.


Milton Keynes is a planned post-war new town incorporating pre-existing towns and villages. Its purpose was to provide houses and jobs for 70,000 newcomers to the area by 1981 and 150,000 by 1990, combining with the existing population to create a new city for 250,000 people. Most of these new residents would come from London, but it was planned for some to also come from south Buckinghamshire.

The Plan for Milton Keynes was produced by consultants Llewelyn-Davies Weeks Forestier-Walker & Bor from a brief written by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation – the organisation tasked with designing and implementing the new city. Work on the masterplan started in December 1967. The Plan sets out the main aims of Milton Keynes but is deliberately flexible to allow for organic development. Fixed elements such as transport, drainage and water supply would be used to create a framework where social and economic development could react to changing circumstances. The intention was not to prescribe a way of life, but offer opportunities for residents to choose and build a life for themselves. The final form of the city was to be an expression of its people’s wishes.

The other post-war new towns were reviewed and lessons were learned. The difficulties of poor housing, and problems accessing work and social services were highlighted as contributors to poverty. Racism in the physical and institutional structure of cities was recognised as a barrier for minority groups, whose access to opportunities was slower because of discrimination. The link between social development services and housing management was highlighted as important in order to reach new residents whose needs fell outside traditional statutory services.

It was predicted that in the future there would be higher incomes, more demand for higher education, more leisure time and advances in science and technology. These would all have an effect on the design and development of Milton Keynes.

Main goals

Six goals were decided upon, which ran through all the proposals put forward in the plan.

  1. Opportunity and freedom of choice – People would have a range of opportunities and a choice in areas such as housing, education, work, leisure and healthcare.
  2. Easy movement and access, and good communications – To be built into the city from the beginning. It is linked with freedom of choice - that there would be no restrictions on opportunities or choice because of difficulty of access.
  3. Balance and variety – Each area would have a mix of population, architecture, housing type and activities in order to integrate the wide groups of people who will live in the area.
  4. An attractive city – Visual and experiential appeal was important for residents to have a high quality of life. It is linked with balance and variety. The existing villages would be used to create character and the transport system would provide a variety of routes and changing views.
  5. Public awareness and participation – The development of the city would react to the changing needs of residents so it was important to have a two way communication.
  6. Efficient and imaginative use of resources – They would need to use public and private resources such as money, land and workforce to the best benefit of the city and country.
An illustration of some Milton Keynes housing and a man on an electric scooter in the foreground.

Since the initial idea of the new city many artists, designers and architects put down images and ideas of what they thought this city could look like. Here’s a few of our favourites – which is yours?

Andrew Mahaddie, December 1972
John Csáky, c.1975
John Seed, c.1975
Helmut Jacoby, c.1975


Share your ideas with us!