Cllr Sean Woodward is the Leader of Fareham Borough Council.
Seasoned readers will recall that I wrote about Fareham Borough Council’s ambitions for Welborne Garden Village in Conservative Home four years ago. At that point, the Council was seeking a Delivery Partner to drive development forward to create the south’s first Garden Village. Some four years later we are so much further forward in many ways, yet still not a single house has been constructed. I have learnt many things about large-scale developments over the last few years, but the single salutary lesson has been that these things cannot be rushed, no matter the urgency of the drivers behind them.
Welborne Garden Village will be a distinct new community for Hampshire, set apart from, but connected to, Fareham. Enjoying a superb location close to the major cities along the south coast, Welborne forms a significant part of Fareham Borough Council’s housing strategy which ensures there are enough homes to meet demand for the next 25 years.
One of the Government’s first wave of new Garden Communities, Welborne will offer 6,000 homes, together with three retail and community areas, a public house, a hotel, up to 105,000 m2 of commercial and employment space, community uses, healthcare services, a secondary school, three primary schools, pre-schools, green infrastructure including formal and informal open and amenity space, allotments, all the supporting infrastructure, household waste recycling centre; a remodelled M27 motorway junction and the creation of three highway junctions, all realised to high standards of design and construction.
Originally conceived in the Welborne Plan in 2015, the pace of progress on the development was initially frustratingly slow and, as a result, the Council decided to engage the market to find an experienced Development Partner to work with to bring it forward. However, in Autumn 2017, the strategy changed when one of the landowners acquired most of the thousand acre development site.
Fast-forward to 2019 and an Outline Planning Application was finally in front of the Planning Committee to determine. The Resolution to Grant was made and then it was just a question of finalising the Section 106 legal agreement. Some two years after that, with two further visits to the Planning Committee, Outline Planning Permission has just been granted for Welborne Garden Village.
There are still a few important details to consider before that first single house is built. This large-scale development will take over 20 years to complete and the Garden Village concept is grounded in placemaking. This isn’t just housebuilding; this is a commitment to high-quality design, high-quality materials and local contextuality that will result in a place that not only stands out from its peers immediately, but also endures over generations. The Council is requiring that a suite of Design Codes is put in place to govern and control the quality of the development so that all areas of the new community belong unmistakably to Welborne, no matter who builds it or what phase it belongs to.
I am heartened by the progress that Fareham Borough Council has made with the Master Developer, Buckland Development Limited, over the last four years and buoyed by the support of our local partners and indeed national government in the form of Homes England. That single house is now within touching distance and I look forward to seeing the first homes on the market in 2023.