Welborne - what is it and what will it be like?

An impression of Welborne
An impression of Welborne
Fly-tipping in Harold Road. Picture: Andrew Pearce

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Building a new 6,500-home town is a bold move for any local authority.

There are many considerations it has to make. Where could a town so large go? What will happen to the green space that it removes? How can one area deal with an extra 13,000 people – not to mention their cars and the extra traffic?

Also, there is the ever-growing risk of flooding, and the fear that water will run off the new town and swamp neighbouring villages.

But this is no game of Sim City or Populous. It’s a very real and complicated process.

And it’s one that Fareham Borough Council has embraced with its controversial move to make a dent in the housing waiting list, as well as meet government housing guidelines without developing inside the town.

Executive member for strategic planning and environment Cllr Keith Evans has worked on the plan since the first major government examination of the proposals in 2011. It first came up as an idea in 2009.

‘In its simplest terms Welborne is a new single community to be built north of Fareham that will meet Fareham’s housing needs until 2030,’ says Cllr Evans.

‘It is a single area, built on green fields, which we believe would be the best place to put it.

‘Ninety per cent of all new development in the borough is part of the council’s long-term plan. This plan will take us from 2015 all the way up to 2030.

‘We have done our projections up until 2030 and have taken a decision that rather than having development dotted around the borough, infilling all the spaces within the town but without adding the extra infrastructure, we decided that it would be better to have it in one place so that we can invest in infrastructure and do things correctly.’

Once complete the town will have 6,500 homes, three primary schools, a secondary school, three small shopping precincts, a district centre, community centres, 90sq m of employment space and health facilities.

The rapid bus route, the BRT, will be extended to link from Fareham train station to the town.

And even though, the nearby Knowle train halt closed many years ago, the land will be reserved so that in the future it could possibly be a station.

Cllr Evans says the council will be aiming for around 40 per cent green space – created through green walkways, gardens and a large central park. He also says the plans include around 30 per cent affordable housing.

The town will be broken down into four areas, one of these being a wetland area. This will provide a space to store excess rain water and will double as an area for leisure and recreation.

The name Welborne was picked by residents who voted out of choice of three – Welborne, Swansdell and Spurlings. The name relates to two fields north of Kiln Road and south of Kneller Court – as shown in maps from the 1800s. The public are being asked to give their views again, by way of a six-week consultation period.

The council hopes that once comments from this consultation have been collaborated, a draft proposal can go before an inspector by the autumn next year, when it could be adopted.

When it does start to be built, the building will begin near the A32 and work upwards. It will focus on the district centre and a primary school to the east.

This initial phase is expected to take up until 2025, with further phases of housing and development taking place up until 2041.

The council has met objections to the building of Welborne, but Cllr Evans says: ‘It’s not possible for any local authority to say no development anywhere at any time. The fact is that there is a growing population and we need more housing and more employment spaces. Every district has a housing waiting list which is growing. What we need to do is have that development but have it in best possible manner.’

Have your say

RESIDENTS still have an opportunity to make their voices heard, although the initial consultation period on Welborne is drawing to a close.

Exhibitions have been held across the area so that people could view the plans and comment.

Council officers were on hand to answer any questions and a comment box was available.

Some of the concerns raised at the exhibitions were around building on green land, the school’s location and the eco status of the town.

Local residents were also worried about potential flooding and extra traffic.

The draft plan had been drawn up as a result of a survey conducted in July 2012.

The plan is still available to view online at fareham.gov.uk/consultations.

It can also be seen at the Fareham library and at the Civic Offices, both on Osborn Road.

Fareham Borough Council’s executive member for strategic planning and environment, Councillor Keith Evans said: ‘We would like as many people as possible to get involved and help shape the draft plan for Welborne. You can comment on any part of the draft plan, which covers all aspects of developing Welborne.’

If you have any comments or questions about Welborne, call 01329 236100 and ask for the Welborne planning team or email planningpolicy@fareham.gov.uk. The closing date for the consultation is Monday.

Minister’s visit

THE fields on which Welborne will be built were visited by the government’s planning minister Nick Boles.

He gave his approval to the new community when he met executive leader Cllr Seán Woodward, director of planning and environment for the council Richard Jolley and chairman of the Welborne Standing Conference Henry Clearly in May.

Mr Boles said: ‘This will be a whole site that works as a community. There are 2,000 people on the waiting list for housing, but there are people for whom home ownership is beyond what they can afford. We need to build more houses.

‘What we need to do is choose fields that are less beautiful, less environmentally sensitive, and have quality infrastructure.’

‘There’s a fund called the Community Infrastructure Levy which can be used to improve roads.’

Fareham Borough Council leader Sean Woodward said: ‘There is a critical need for this development. We had a choice, a very clear choice. We could infill all the green spaces between our villages and our towns, or we could build a community.

‘But not a brick will be laid at this new community until we have the infrastructure in place, and most importantly the funding.’