£100m cash to give town a new heart

Craig David

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A TOWN is facing a £100m overhaul to give it a new heart.

The outline plans for Whiteley include a 60-room business hotel, up to 200 homes, a remodelled shopping area, a new leisure centre and a library.

And the Whiteley Village outlet shopping centre, which takes up a major part of the 38-acre site, could face demolition as part of the proposals.

Landowners British Land and the Universities Superannuation Scheme – working together under the name The Whiteley Co-Ownership – want to move it towards a community-orientated centre, with everyday shops and facilities.

But the consortium has said public consultation will be key to deciding what is included in the final proposals.

Andrew Rollings, retail director at the village, said: 'Remodelling, redeveloping, re-engineering – they are three phrases that have all come up.

'Most importantly we have got to try and establish what the community itself wants to see here.'

Headquarters of all the businesses in the 70-unit outlet village have been contacted to let them know about the plans.

Mr Rollings added: 'I'm not expecting any backlash from the retailers, but I am expecting a lot of conversation – they are major stakeholders.'

The consortium intends to hold the first of several public meetings next month, but is yet to fix a date or location.

Whiteley straddles two local authorities – with all the land involved on the Winchester City Council side of the town, but residents who live in the Fareham borough side will also get their say in the development.

The parish council will be sending mailshots to everyone on the Winchester side of the town.

It will also send its newsletter to everyone on the Fareham side, inviting feedback.

Councillor for the Fareham side of Whiteley Sean Woodward said: 'I told them before a brick was even laid – it was always entirely the wrong concept for Whiteley.

'It was supposed to cater for millions of people, but it's a tumbleweed town. The people of Whiteley might now finally get the proper district shopping centre they were cheated out of at the time.

'I'm sure some people will bemoan its loss, but not many in Whiteley.'

The consortium hopes that an outline planning application for the whole development can be submitted to Winchester City Council before the end of the year.

Full planning applications will then be submitted in phases as the work progresses over the next decade.