By Phil Marsh
A LAST-ditch attempt to save the historic Wolverton Works from the bulldozer has failed.
However, the future of the site is again enshrouded in uncertainty following a ‘surprise’ sudden sale.
The London & Birmingham Railway opened the works on September 17, 1838 and it is likely to be under new ownership for its 180th anniversary, according to the current operator Knorr-Bremse’s
August 5 announcement it had sold the rail renovation business to a German-based holding company called Mutares.
Knorr-Bremse bought the rail business on August 27, 2013 four weeks after it had entered administration, when previous operator Railcare ran out of cash, and has therefore run Wolverton and Springburn for five years.
This sale, which many locals consider not coincidental, closely followed the High Court’s dismissal on July 30 of the appeal made on May 23 this year by Historic England against the controversial planning consent to demolish 99% of the works.
The court’s ruling was described as “very disappointing” by Historic England because Wolverton Works is the most complete example of a major UK Victorian railway works, and is within a conservation area, and because the ruling means that in theory no conservation area is safe from demolition and redevelopment.
The Judge, Mr Justice Dove, said in his 44-page ruling he considered Milton Keynes Council was in law entitled to conclude the future use of one part of the site for railway-related employment and the replacement of the rest for housing outweighed the retention of the unlisted buildings for the contribution they make to the character of Wolverton.
Read more in Issue 245 of HR – on sale now!