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Milton Keynes Chief Architect Derek Walker Dies Aged 85


Architects in Bury and beyond are sure to be saddened by the news that Derek Walker, the chief architect and town planner for Milton Keynes, has died at the age of 85.

Born in Blackburn in Lancashire, Mr Walker grew up in Leeds, studying architecture at Leeds Arts School before distinguishing himself as head of architecture at the Royal College of Art in the 80s.

He was perhaps best known for his part in the creation of Milton Keynes, which he had intended to be greener than the surrounding countryside – an assertion he would probably later come to regret when Milton Keynes wound up being roundly criticised for its endless roundabouts, unattractive buildings and Concrete Cows (created by artist Liz Leyh in 1978).

The initial idea was to establish a Forest City, with 20 per cent of land allocated to parkland and the town divided up into localities, each given its own family of trees.

One of Mr Walker’s lasting legacies in Milton Keynes is the Central Shopping Centre, which he co-designed alongside Christopher Woodward and Stuart Mosscrop. First opened in 1979, it was in fact one of the first covered shopping malls in Britain and in 2010 was awarded Grade-II listed status by Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary at the time.

However, despite this, the shopping centre’s own director apparently insisted that the centre was characterless and nondescript, even with Mr Hunt praising it for its “high quality design and unusual roof-top service area access”, according to the Independent.

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