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Plans for Central Milton Keynes’ first, highly sustainable, ‘live lab’ green rooftop have been announced by mixed-use developers First Base and investors Patron Capital, the team behind the new proposals for Saxon Court. In collaboration with local living roof specialists, Bridgman & Bridgman, creative agency, Pooleyville, YMCA Milton Keynes and Milton Keynes Council, the temporary project will also deliver exciting training and development opportunities for local young people.

The initiative forms part of MK Council’s Green Business Recovery Fund and will draw on local, specialist expertise to demonstrate the biodiversity and carbon capture benefits of green roofs within urban areas, as well as the ability to grow food on rooftops

Due to the climate emergency and growing awareness of the benefits of green roofs, the industry is looking for new, skilled workers to manage increasing demand. As part of this project, YMCA residents will be offered the opportunity to be trained and awarded certifications in the installation and maintenance of green roofs, providing them with the skills to meet future employment opportunities.

Concluding in April 2022, the newly skilled green roof installers will be given the chance to reuse materials and features from the Saxon Court live lab and apply their new skills to create their own green roof on the new YMCA Milton Keynes building.

Delivering substantial environmental benefits of living roofs within urban areas, the Saxon Court initiative is also in alignment with Milton Keynes’ ambitions of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, and carbon negative by 2050. The initiative also aligns with First Base and Patron Capital’s commitment to deliver over £300m of social value over 20 years, including support for local employment, training, and skills. The development has also signed up to the Milton Keynes Cornerstone Employment scheme, with a focus on delivering employability support for local young people.

YMCA MK Employment Manager Will McCormack said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our young residents who are passionate and eager to contribute to their local community. Not only will this be a unique experience, but our residents will gain valuable training and experience that will lead them on to further opportunities in the future.”

Steve Eccles, Project Director, First Base, said: “We are delighted that Saxon Court will be the test bed for a dynamic green roof which will offer immediate and substantial environmental benefits for Central Milton Keynes, as well as providing fantastic opportunities for YMCA residents to learn new skills, setting them up for sustainable employment in the future.”

Councillor Jenny Wilson-Marklew, Cabinet Member for Climate and Sustainability at MK Council said: “We’re committed to supporting new green and creative jobs as Milton Keynes looks to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

“We’re delighted to be able to launch this newest scheme with an MK-based firm leading in their industry, while also providing training and development opportunities for local young people.”