Page last updated at 13:49 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Row over shopping centre status

The Centre MK
The culture secretary is to rule on the centre's status before Christmas

Plans to award listed building status to a shopping centre in Milton Keynes have been criticised by its owners.

English Heritage has requested The Centre MK becomes Grade II*-listed on the basis that its 1970s architecture represents a "freer form of design".

But the shopping centre's director said its architecture was "nondescript and characterless" and listing the building would make expansion much harder.

The secretary of state for culture will make a decision before Christmas.

The benefits if it was listed would be short-lived and minimal
Robert Goodman, Centre MK director

The management has said listing the building will cause job losses and make it harder to encourage future investment.

Centre director Robert Goodman said: "If it became listed today, immediately we would have to stop work on the new dining area and that would put 60 construction jobs at risk.

"Medium to longer term it would make it more difficult for us to attract retailers and investment.

"And what I'm really concerned about; the benefits if it was listed would be short-lived and minimal."

But a spokeswoman for English Heritage dismissed the criticism.

"It is quite wrong [as] many of the operational areas of the complex are not of special interest and can be altered. Listing does not preclude change."

Ken Baker, one Milton Keynes' original architects, supports English Heritage.

He said buildings of The Centre MK were of "national importance".

The centre was built between 1975 and 1979 and covers 1.3m sq ft (121,000 sq m).

A Grade II* listing would put the shopping centre in the same category as the Tate Britain art gallery in London.

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