Plans for a new 6,000-home community to the north of Fareham in Hampshire moved forward last month after a planning inspector backed a key planning document intended to progress the proposal.
The Welborne Plan provides the planning policy framework for the delivery of 6,000 homes, almost 100,000 square metres of employment space, a central park linked to a network of open spaces, new local centres and a district centre.
Claire Burnett, head of planning strategy and regeneration at Fareham Borough Council, led the process.
Q. What is the planning history of the Welborne site?
A. You have to go back to the South-East Plan to find the origins of Welborne. Back then regional policy proposed a Strategic Development Area within Fareham, in a broad location to the north of the M27 motorway.
Q. What was the work involved?
A. Fareham Borough Council embarked on its core strategy, which included developing a vision for the SDA. This work focused on, for example, assessing the potential capacity to support such a strategic development in the area of search identified. In 2011 the core strategy was tested at an examination and found to be sound.
Q. What challenges did you face and how were they overcome?
A. Arguably, looking back at the project from its origins to today, one of the main challenges was successfully steering Welborne’s route through an ever-changing planning regime.
We were proactive and devoted resources to demonstrate how development could be delivered at Welborne through, for example, undertaking master planning work to illustrate how 6,000 homes could be sensitively accommodated on the site.
Whilst the challenges are significant, so too are the opportunities. The council has already worked successfully with key partners to attract around £15 million of government funding, which will contribute to a significant package of highway improvements.
Ultimately the key challenge and opportunity is ahead of us, delivering a new ‘garden community’ of quality on the ground complete with the all of the necessary infrastructure.
Q. What happens next?
A. The council anticipates that an application for the site will soon come forward. Following consultation last year, it has emerging supplementary planning documents to progress to adoption on both the design approach to the new community and the necessary supporting infrastructure.
Both the Welborne Plan and the Development Sites and Polices Plan are due to be taken to full council on 8 June for a decision on their adoption.