Plans approved for 6,000-home Hampshire garden village

Plans for a 6,000-home garden village have been approved by a Hampshire council after officers advised of "numerous and significant" benefits arising from the scheme.

An artist's impression of plans for Welborne Garden Village. Image: Buckland Developments
An artist's impression of plans for Welborne Garden Village. Image: Buckland Developments

Yesterday, councillors at Fareham Borough Council resolved to grant outline permission for Welborne Garden Village on a 377-hectare agricultural site to the north of the town.

Plans for the project were submitted by Buckland Developments in March 2017 and include 75,000 square metres of industrial and warehousing units, 30,000 square metres of employment space, a district centre, hotel, pub, health centre, schools, green infrastructure and highways.

Earlier that year, the project was among one of 17 garden communities to be chosen to receive financial support from the government.

Potential for the development of a garden village north of Fareham was first formally identified in the 2009 South East Plan.

In 2011, the site was allocated for the development of up to 7,500 homes in the council’s core strategy.

The Welborne Plan was adopted in June 2015 as part of the Fareham local plan and identified the site for "a distinct new community set apart but connected to Fareham, whose spirit, character and form are inspired by its landscape setting".

Recommending approval of the scheme, Fareham planning officers advised: "Given the allocation of the site for Welborne through the adopted Core Strategy and The Welborne Plan, the principle of the development is established."

The Welborne Plan sets a target of a 30 per cent affordable housing contribution, subject to viability.

Officers advised that 10 per cent of the first 1,000 dwellings would be affordable but said this was "considered to be acceptable" and that viability reviews would be used in a bid to increase the overall scheme’s provision to 30 per cent.

They went on to describe the proposed scheme as "a distinct new community with a modern interpretation of the garden village principles" and noted benefits including "a significant employment offer", "a significant quantum of green infrastructure", "amenities such as childcare and education establishments", and "provision of a health and well being hub".

"All of the above benefits weigh heavily in favour of the scheme," they said.

The report added that the council cannot demonstrate a five-year housing land supply - stating that it only has 4.66 years of supply - and advised councillors that this should carry weight in their decision.

The report says that Welborne "will help meet the housing need in the borough".

Officers rejected a request from the Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust and University Hospital Southampton for a £6 million payment to mitigate the impact of the development.

"The harm identified by the two hospitals is not considered to be clearly articulated and evidenced," they said, adding: "As a consequence, any harm is not considered to be so significant that the other policy requirements of the scheme should be sacrificed to satisfy the hospitals’ requests."

Officers described the application site as a "significant area of undeveloped, primarily agricultural land" and said the development would have "an adverse impact upon the rural landscape".

However, they concluded: "The benefits are considered to be numerous and significant and not outweighed by any identifiable harm."

Buckland Developments said the first homes could be occupied by the end of 2021.

Chairman Mark Thistlethwayte said reaching the permission "has taken more than a decade of carefully considered work, resource and investment". 

According to Buckland, consultants that have been involved in the project include David Lock Associates, AECOM, WSP, Barton Willmore and BECG.

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