Developer says Welborne plan is ‘just weeks away’

A CGI of homes at Welborne
A CGI of homes at Welborne
Picture: Isle of Wight Radio/PA Wire

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THE owner of land earmarked for a new town says that a planning application is just weeks away from being submitted.

Mark Thistlethwayte, the chairman of Buckland Development – the firm promoting some of the land set aside for 6,000-home Welborne – said the plan was would be submitted in six weeks.

Welborne, north of Fareham, was named by the government earlier this week as one of 14 garden villages that can receive a share of £6m, part of the government’s £2.3bn housing infrastructure fund, to help make them a reality.

Fareham Borough Council said it hopes to use this money to progress a compulsory purchase order of the land.

But Mr Thistlethwayte said this was both ‘unnecessary’ and ‘an unhelpful waste of time’.

He said: ‘It is a complete waste of time as far as Welborne goes.

‘As a result of taking this, the council has caused delays because there are now more hoops to jump through and bars to get over than normal.

‘It is a hugely unhelpful process.’

He said he has already spent £10m advancing Welborne, which will cost at least £2bn, with £200m to be spent on infrastructure.

The idea for Welborne was first put forward in 2004, but it took until June 2015 for the scheme to be passed by a government inspector.

Since then no planning application has materialised, with Buckland Development working with the other landowner BST Warehouses – owned by the Benge family – to come up with suitable plans.

Fareham Borough Council announced in February that it would pursue a CPO so it could progress the town as it needed to meet housing numbers and protect other green spaces around the borough from development.

Mr Thistlethwayte denied that there were any rifts between the two 
landowners – and said that delays to the scheme had been caused by the council bringing in strict criteria, and by 
legal documents surrounding infrastructure not being signed by the Benge 
family.

However, council leader Sean Woodward said the CPO had not had any effect on the ability of the landowners to put forward a planning application.

He said: ‘The best possible scenario is that the landowners get their act together and put in a deliverable plan for Welborne. If they do, then we can call off the process.

‘The CPO does not have to affect their plans one jot.’

Cllr Woodward said the council needed to pursue a CPO on the whole land as it was not possible to focus on one half.

He added: ‘There’s only one word that matters and that is certainty. Everything we are doing is to bring about certainty to Welborne.

‘While we cannot do that, then we have other sites around the borough at risk from development.’

Buckland Development held a series of public consultations last year in order to form its application, which Mr Thistlethwayte said was six weeks away from being submitted.

‘We had some pretty good feedback,’ he said.

‘If we want to design a new community, then we need to involve the community to work out how it could work.’

n Buckland Development is acting as developer and promoter on behalf of landowner Mark Thistlethwayte in regards to Welborne.

Mr Thistlethwayte is also a director of Buckland Capital Partners, an investment company which is not involved in the project. The News is happy to make this clear.