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Crowdfunding begins

Following the announcement of the sale of The Point by Hammerson, two charities resident in The Point – ReturnMK and the Somali Outreach Project – launched a £10 million crowdfunding drive to buy the building and turn it into a community asset.

The announcement gathered a lot of attention both in local media as well as regionally, with a feature shown on ITV Anglia News.

The owners are trying to sell the building, they have earmarked it for residential but we think it should remain in the community for the community. So, basically doing exactly what we’re doing today with our charity status and all the other charities within The Point, delivering the services that the community needs.

Jason Lawrence, CEO ReturnMK

It’s for the young people to come together… if we lost The Point that means we lost our heart because we have been fighting for it for the last 10 years. But last four years we have been using this place in the centre, an icon for Milton Keynes, especially for the young people. So if we lost this it means we lost out heart.”

Abdi Abdullahi, Co-founder, Somali Outreach Project

The Point goes up for sale

Before planning permission expired for The Point in March of 2021, Hammerson began the process of selling the freehold to The Point, and promptly advertised the building for sale on 9 July 2021 via property agents Savills.

The sales brochure for The Point hailed the sale as a “brownfield redevelopment and investment opportunity” with a “positive planning history” and “residential redevelopment potential”. The brochure goes on to detail the sale of two separate freeholds, one for The Point’s ziggurat and cinema screens, and a second for the multi-storey car park to the rear.

The finer print goes on to to detail that residential feasibility studies have been undertaken, indicating a scheme of circa 450 apartments may be possible on the site, with potential for more were the multi-storey redeveloped to cater for increased parking.

With the correct credentials you can view the sale details at the Savills website, or view the brochure below.


Certificate of Immunity: Application #2

With the deadline for the construction to commence rapidly approaching, Hammerson once again filed for Certificate of Immunity.

It could be that Hammerson was unable to commence construction on the planning permission granted to them due to the impact of the Covid19 pandemic in 2020, however some individuals familiar with the process had already questioned Hammerson’s intentions, and instead suspected that it was simply a tool to facilitate the sale of The Point.

Regardless of the motivation, Historic England agreed that the Certificate of Immunity be granted. In a highly suspect move, Historic England chose to approach The Twentieth Century Society to provide the rebuttal of Hammerson’s application, despite being aware of The Cinema Theatre Association’s extensive work campaigning for the building previously.

In their response to the FOI request submitted, Historic England stated simply:

We are aware that there is strong local opinion over The Point and future development of the site. We have considered the claims of the building very carefully, but we have not been able to recommend statutory listing.

Historic England

Listed Status: Attempts #6 + #7

As the pandemic wore on, some Milton Keynes residents again took to social media, petitioning and local news in an effort to try and safeguard The Point. Meanwhile, two further applicants attempted to get listed status for our landmark.

“Many people comment on how they knew they were home when they saw that red pyramid in the distance.”

Milton Keynes advocate, 15 Jul 2020

Unsurprisingly, Historic England rejected the applications again, re-using their advice report in its entirety from the fourth attempt.

These documents were made available by Historic England (HE) via a Freedom of Information request submitted on 28th September 2020. Other attempts at listed status are also available for download.


Listed Status: Attempt #5

Almost immediately after the Certificate of Immunity awarded to Hammerson to protect The Point from being listed expired, the Cinema Theatre Association (CTA) jumped into action.

By this stage, MK Council had already removed the final obstacles to granted planning permission to The Point for its demolition and redevlopment. That didn’t deter the CTA from compiling and submitting one of the most indepth defences of The Point to date, noting that the building was groundbreaking on many levels:

“It was featured … for the significant role it played in reinvigorating the cinema industry in the 1980s.”

“In terms of [architecture]… it illustrates both concepts of Archigram and the influence of American Architecture on buildings in Britain.”

“It was built by BDP … an experimental, idealistic and interdisciplanary practice…”

Cinema Theatre Association, 10 Jun 2019

Historic England assess applications on their historical and architectural merit rather than local popularity, and never before had a more robust and concise argument been put forward in defence of The Point and its place in British history.

But even this wasn’t enough, with Historic England apparently unwilling to even write a new conclusion on their advice report, instead copy and pasting verbatim the conclusion from their first advice report issued way back in 2012. Listed status was rejected again.

These documents were made available by Historic England (HE) via a Freedom of Information request submitted on 28th September 2020. Other attempts at listed status are also available for download.

The Point MK

Councillors bid a fond (fake?) farewell

Late objections from a member of the public were cast aside by Councillors as they removed the final obstacles standing in the way of The Point’s demolition.

Despite claims of fond farewells for one of the city’s signature icons, the plaudits came across as hollow, with no single recognition of The Point being a beacon and cultural backbone to the city for decades. Cllr Baines’ statement was extremely telling; “I am a new boy in the city. I have no fondness for it because I never went there.”

Since when did we start electing people that do not know what it means to eat, sleep and live MK to represent us, and make decisions on our most beloved structures?

You can read local coverage at the time courtesy of MK Citizen.


ReturnMK starts a new era

The Point was given a new lease of life in 2018 as newly formed community group ReturnMK took up residence in the landmark site to provide community projects for under-privileged young people in the Milton Keynes area.

Since then they’ve remained in place and kept the lights on, providing media based activities such as Music Technology, DJ workshops, Radio Production and Video Production courses as well as Dance classes, Cookery lessons and Academic studies.


Closing credits roll at The Point

After a steady decline in commercial success, The Point closed screened its final movie (Kingsman: The Secret Service) on 26 February 2015, almost 30 years after first opening. Sadly despite already growing support amongst local residents to ensure that The Point survived as a cultural landmark for the city, most local media turned a blind eye to its plight.


Outline Planning Permission

In 2013 owner and retail developer Hammerson submiited for outline planning permission for the demolition of The Point and redevelopment of the site to provide “a range of retail and leisure” facilities. A stark contrast to the facilities the current building provides… or not. Sadly, the minutes of the meeting read as a foregone conclusion with a little altruistic tokenism for the community groups in the building.

…raised concerns in respect of the message that would be sent out to developers in general in the event that the application was refused and the need to attract investment to Milton Keynes.

Councillor Andrew Geary, Newport Pagnell North & Hanslope, Conservative

Certificate of Immunity: Application #1

Hot on the heels of applications to Historic England for The Point to be granted listed status, owner Hammerson hit back and filed for a Certificate of Immunity. The certificate would provide a legal guarantee that The Point would not be considered for designation as a building of special architectural or historic interest (listed status).

Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners (NLP) writing on behalf of Hammerson believed that The Point was “of its time” and went on to say:

“The building is not an important example of cinema architecture … The architectural quality of the ziggurat is not outstanding.”

NLP, 22 Jul 2013

Sadly Historic England agreed, and duly granted the requested Certificate of Immunity.

These documents were made available by Historic England (HE) via a Freedom of Information request submitted on 28th September 2020. Other attempts at listed status are also available for download.