A BREAKTHROUGH could finally be reached in the bid to get a new 6,000-home town built after the government freed up millions to purchase the land.
Welborne, a proposed development to the north of Fareham, has been hamstrung by delays since Fareham Borough Council adopted the Welborne Plan in 2015.
Welborne epitomises the government’s ambitions to get Britain building again and help more people realise their dream of home ownership.Councillor Sean Woodward
Buckland Capital Partners – which owns a large part of the land – is set to put in outline plans for its proposals for the site on behalf of the Southwick Estate.
However, due to delays from Buckland, which is embroiled in a row with fellow major landowner The Benge Estate, the council has been preparing to buy the land through a compulsory purchase order (CPO) and develop the land itself with a development partner.
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Now, the council’s plans have taken a step forward as the government announced today that Welborne is to be one of 14 ‘Garden Villages’ across the country.
The title means the council will be able to dip into a pot of £6 million to bring forward the land for development.
Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of the council, says this will be the local authority’s plan, in a bid to get homes built.
He said: ‘As Welborne is already so far into the planning structure, it will be viewed as a priority by the government and we should therefore have the funds to acquire the land via a CPO.
‘This is a breakthrough that will speed up the development of Welborne with the government very interested to see it built.’
Garden Villages are set to be built across the county and differ from the previously announced Garden Towns initiative.
The government classes Garden Villages as projects of between 1,500 and 10,0000 homes with Garden Towns seen as developments of more than 10,000 homes.
Local authorities across the country, including Fareham, made their bids for the funding to government in July of last year.
In addition to the 6,000 homes at Welborne, three primary schools, one secondary school, shops, employment space, community facilities and outdoor space is planned for the development.
Councillor Woodward added the new town is a ‘perfect fit’ for the government’s new initiative .
He said: ‘Welborne epitomises the government’s ambitions to get Britain building again and help more people realise their dream of home ownership.
‘Welborne forms an integral part of our housing plans for Fareham and will provide much-needed homes and jobs for our residents and families.’
Cllr Woodward has previously stated that the secondary school could be part of prime minister Theresa May’s new grammar school initiative.
Housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell said: ‘Locally-led Garden Towns and Villages have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need.
‘New communities not only deliver homes, they also bring new jobs and facilities and a big boost to local economies. These places combined could provide almost 200,000 homes.’
Buckland’s row with the Benge Estate has delayed their proposed outline planning application being submitted, although, Mark Thistlethwayte, chairman of Buckland Development Limited – which is part of Buckland Capital Partners – recently said a planning application would be submitted to the council in the next few months.
Councillor Shaun Cunningham, of the Liberal Democrat group on the council, said the council’s plans could lead to ‘legal row’ between the landowners and the council.
He said: ‘The landowners have previously indicated they would fight any CPO. This would lead to huge delays rather than speed up the development.
‘The delay of Welborne is becoming a complete joke and I think there could be further delays as a result of this.
‘We need to protect other sites around the borough and the delay of Welborne is simply not helping.’
The council is yet to acquire a development partner for the site.