Milton Keynes template for two new Chinese cities

The centre of the Milton Keynes showing the junction of Midsummer Boulevard and Witan Gate Milton Keynes, designated as a new town in January 1967, is seen as an "obvious influence" for town planners

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The "feng shui" of Milton Keynes has provided the inspiration for two new cities in China, planners have said.

Dr Wei Yang, who won a £500,000 contract to design plans for Hunan province, said the Buckinghamshire town was an "obvious influence".

The managing director of Wei Yang and Partners said her designs would draw on the town's mix of residential and green areas.

"Milton Keynes is the most successful new town in the world," Dr Yang said.

"[It] offers a strong and friendly community, which has stood the test of time."

She said the design of the town adhered to the Chinese principle of feng shui - "the harmony of the natural and human environment" - and would be incorporated into the design, funded by Chinese authorities.

'Important philosophies'

London-based Wei Yang and Partners, founded in Milton Keynes in 2011, still has an office in the town because it is seen as a good example for those involved in town planning.

Milton Keynes Hunan province
Milton Keynes cows being repainted

Milton Keynes was designated as a "new city and borough" in 1967

Changsha, the capital of Hunan province in China

The province is located in the south central part of the Chinese mainland

Conceived to ease London housing congestion, the location was chosen because it was equidistant from London, Birmingham, Leicester, Oxford and Cambridge

Tourist attractions include 1,290m (4,232ft) high Mount Hengshan and Dongting Lake, once the biggest fresh water lake in China, with an area of 2,820 sq km (30,354 sq ft)

In the 2011 census it had a population of about 250,000

Has a population of 67 million of which 23.8 million are in towns

It is famed for its roundabouts, grid road system and concrete cows

80% of the province is covered by mountains and hills

Source: BBC

"I don't think your average Chinese person knows about Milton Keynes but it is certainly very well known in the planning field," said Dr Yang.

She said there were "a lot of very important design philosophies" behind the 46-year-old town's original plan.

Feng shui

Feng shui
  • Feng shui - which means 'wind' and 'water' in Mandarin - is used to predict fortunes
  • Gold features prominently in the Chinese art of feng shui
  • It dates back to neolithic times
  • It is the art of living in harmony with your natural environment, thus allowing a natural flow of energy, or qi

"Chinese visitors are always impressed by the green setting, and see it as a model for building long-term vision and community," she said.

"If you think about Milton Keynes, the park system integrates the best of the residential areas and also the best of the natural environment.

"It makes the whole city accessible."

Chris Lowsley, from the government's UK Trade & Investment body, said China had to look carefully at how it planned its new cities because of the enormous growth of its urban population.

He said in his dealings with the cluster of Chinese businesses in the town he found it was the feng shui that was attractive to them.

"They like the energy there, they like the grid form and the way it is laid out," he said.

"The Chinese like both the environment of Milton Keynes and the friendliness of the people."

Dr Yang revealed one master plan had been finished and the company was in the process of creating "detailed design and guidance" that the Chinese government could put in place.

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