Milton Keynes is set to see more changes to its shopping district as intu Milton Keynes is set to get a full makeover. Following on from going into administration earlier in the year, parts of intu business are being taken over by a management firm called Ellandi.
Earlier in June, Intu Properties warned that their shopping malls across the UK may have to close their doors for a period. Intu Properties who were £4.5 billion in debt had been in talks with their creditors to obtain standstill agreements. This would have meant Intu would not have to pay back what it has borrowed until the end of 2021. These talks failed and Intu entered administration.
Where did it go wrong for intu Milton Keynes?
There is no definitive answer. It is a case of the perfect storm. Intu Properties had been struggling as a business due to changes in consumer spending habits and competition from the internet. Many ideas and good campaigns were rolled out over the years but the recent lockdown and shop restrictions due to coronavirus have all but finished the once-popular shopping destination.
Over the years, the management team had put on a number of events from intu Student Night with DJ’s and a full club setup to getting a mayor to play a few games of ping pong.
The other issue is that it was too close to Centre:MK, the ‘favourite’ Milton Keynes shopping destination. The rebrand from Midsummer Place to Intu MK was not really successful. With Centre:MK as the main shopping destination in Milton Keynes for so long, intu MK was seen by locals as ‘somewhere else to look at’.
What happens next to intu Milton Keynes?
One thing is for sure is that it will not be rebranded Ellandi Milton Keynes. New owners Ellandi have announced that it will keep its name in the short term. Officially, Ellandi, the privately-owned operator of many UK shopping centres, has been appointed as asset manager for intu Milton Keynes.
Ellandi believes thriving town centres are community hubs and 90% of Ellandi projects house crucial local amenities such as council offices, health services, banks, and post offices as well as libraries and sports facilities. What does this mean for the shopping centre formerly known as Intu Milton Keynes? At this stage, nobody knows. At some point, it will be rebranded and more profitable retailers/tenants will move in.
Earlier this year, fashion retailer Next announced they will be opening a new beauty store in the former Debenhams units. Called ‘The Beauty Hall from Next’, the new concept store will open in units formerly occupied by Debenhams in both intu sites in Watford and Milton Keynes.
Indulgent break for gin lovers at De Vere Latimer Estate
Let the fun be-gin at De Vere Latimer Estate, set in the heart of Buckinghamshire in the Chess Valley, with their indulgent gin lovers break priced from £185 per room*. The gin package includes an overnight stay with a £26 dinner voucher per guest and a gin cocktail each, followed by breakfast the following morning.
Relax with a complimentary G&T in the hotel’s Huntley Bar, a cosy bar which offers views across the estate’s gardens and sweeping views of the Chiltern Hills. During their stay, guests can also opt to visit the nearby Griffiths Brothers Gin distillery, located just 15 minutes away, for a tour of the distillery with tastings to be enjoyed along the way and to learn how Griffiths Brothers Gins are produced.
Spend the evening in 1838 Restaurant & Bar which celebrates classic British dishes where you’ll discover locally sourced, seasonally inspired menus with dishes including lemon & herb marinated pork tenderloin; Casterbridge 28 days dry aged 8oz Sirloin steak; grilled fillet of sustainable sea bream; and rigatoni alla parmigiana. As part of the package, guests will have up to £52 to spend between them in the restaurant during their stay.
De Vere Latimer Estate, located in the Chess Valley in Buckinghamshire, has plenty of activities on the doorstep. Why not borrow a pair of Hunter wellies and explore the beautiful 10-mile Chess Valley Walk on the hotel’s doorstep to discover a wealth of wildlife, historic buildings, water meadows and nature reserves.
Afterwards, guests can head back to the hotel where they can opt for some R&R in the pool, sauna and steam room or, enjoy a board game in The Library – a secluded spot ideal for relaxing with a drink in hand or indulging in a delicious afternoon tea.
Outdoor culture comes to Waddesdon Manor for late summer
This summer, open-air cinema screenings, picnic theatre and a food festival will come to Waddesdon Manor for some fantastic seasonal culture in the outdoors.
The Luna Cinema will pitch up in the grounds and screen four blockbuster films, with the 19th-century chateau serving as a picturesque backdrop. After arriving via a path lit with festoon lighting, visitors can enjoy the full service of the on-site Luna bar for refreshments and food.
Champagne may be the apt choice on the first night with Baz Luhrman’s spectacular take on The Great Gatsby (Wed 13 Sept) starring Leonardo Di Caprio. While the director’s latest, the Oscar-nominated biopic Elvis (Thurs 14 Sept), follows on the following day to fill the garden setting with Presley’s signature rock and roll. Then a modern classic, as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Fri 15 Sept), the film that kicked off one of the biggest film series of all time, will make Friday evening a nostalgic start to the weekend. The final screening will be the smash-hit of last year Top Gun: Maverick (Sat 16 Sept), starring Tom Cruise and widely cited as a saviour of big-screen cinema.
At the end of August, visitors will be transported back to Elizabethan times with the open-air production of Romeo and Juliet (Thurs 24 Aug) by the internationally-acclaimed The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the UK’s premier all-male company. It will be a unique opportunity to watch the traditional performance in the atmospheric grounds of one the UK’s most beautiful settings. Alongside Elizabethan dress, music and dances, and with the all-male cast, guests can watch the tragedy in a similar manner to how Shakespeare’s original tale would’ve been viewed by the public, except with the extra comfort of enjoying your own picnic in the garden.
If you cannot wait for the second half of summer to see some Shakespeare, then the Unbound Theatre company will have you covered with their free picnic performance of the comedy Much Ado About Nothing (Sun 23 July)at 2pm. They will also return for another free performance of their original play Gertrude & Dorothy (Sun 20 Aug), a crime caper throwing together the noted horticulturalist and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll, and Britain’s first racing driver Dorothy Levitt, for three separate showings throughout the day.
Adding to the summer heat will be Chilli Fest (Fri 1 – Sun 3 Sept) a weekend festival featuring handpicked exhibitors, all passionate about chilli, bringing the best of local artisan condiments, sauces, and chutneys to the Manor grounds. Around 70 stalls will offer up the taste of some of the most delicious chilli-food from the UK, so you can pitch up with a picnic in the sunny grounds to enjoy for the day, and then choose your favourite condiments to take home. There will also be a range of bars and distilleries, offering everything from local vineyards to flavoursome cocktails, making the perfect refreshments after a walk in the gardens. Along with live music and activities for young ones, and with a special late-night opening on Saturday, Chilli Fest is the perfect way to enjoy the last of the summer sunshine.
Of course, if you want to escape the sun for a while, Waddesdon Manor’s impressive permanent collection will be available inside. For first-time visitors or regular guests, there’s plenty to see and enjoy, including the newly restored Musical elephant automaton, the rare Sèvres pot-pourri vase, and works by Guardi, Reynolds, Gainsborough and Watteau.
Alongside the entire summer programme, which includes more theatre shows suitable for the whole family, Waddesdon Manor is set to be the perfect late summer outing for friend meetups, evening drinks, and relaxed afternoon picnics, enjoying the most exciting culture of cinema, theatre and food in a glorious summer setting.
There are limited places available for the events mentioned above, please visit the Waddesdon Manor summer holidays webpage to book and not miss out.
Wicksteed Park’s Garden Wheel Shortlisted for Best new Ride Award
Wicksteed Park’s Garden Wheel has been shortlisted for the Best New Ride at the UK Theme Park Awards.
The Northamptonshire attraction’s historic Water Chute was also nominated for the Best Water Ride and the Park received a third nomination as the Best Theme Park with Animals.
Now in its fourth year, the awards give the British public the chance to vote for their favourite theme parks in national awards recognising the best new rides and attractions, shows and events. Voting will open on 22nd July at ukthemeparkawards.com.
“We’re delighted to have been nominated in three different categories and it’s obviously particularly exciting to be shortlisted with the Garden Wheel for the best new ride,” said Wicksteed Park’s Carly Redington.
“We are up against some stiff competition with the likes of Legoland Windsor and Thorpe Park but it’s great to get recognition for our ongoing investment programme in the park alongside one of our heritage rides,” she added.
Opened in May, the 25-metre-tall Garden Wheel features 18 gondolas and provides stunning views out across the Kettering attraction and the surrounding countryside. The Ferris wheel, which can accommodate up to 72 passengers, is situated at the top end of the park and is included in the price of a wristband.
Alongside Wicksteed Park other major contenders for the awards include Alton Towers and Drayton Manor in Staffordshire, Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Lancashire, Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey, LEGOLAND Windsor in Berkshire and Paultons Park in Hampshire.
There are 22 categories this year, including Theme Park of the Year, Best New Attraction, Best Customer Service and Best Value. New categories include Best Reimagined Attraction, Best Theme Park with Animals and Best Themed Coaster.
In advance of the public vote, a shortlist has been compiled using public nominations and with the help of a panel of expert judges including Paul Kelly (Chief Executive of the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions) and Andy Hine MBE (Chairman – Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain).
More than 25,000 nominations were received, with a total of 35 theme parks nominated for awards in 2023.
The Garden Wheel is part of an ongoing programme of investment in the Park which has included the launch of the new Galaxy Invaders ride, Meerkat Manor, Wicky Bear’s Theatre and Wicky’s Farmyard over the past two years.
Wicksteed Park provides a great value day out for all the family. Entry to the park is free. Ride and attraction tickets can either be purchased individually at £3 per person or alternatively day wristbands are available at £22 for unlimited access to all rides and attractions (with the exception of Wicky’s Play Factory).