Housing Minister Brandon Lewis has seen first-hand how Whitehill & Bordon is leading the way in the government’s initiative to transform public sector land into thriving communities with new homes, jobs and facilities.
Whitehill & Bordon was in the national spotlight today as the minister visited to see work starting on the first of 3,350 new homes.
The ministerial visit marks a huge and exciting milestone in the town’s transformation as it strives to become ‘Hampshire’s green town’.
Brandon Lewis was keen to see for himself how the town will be regenerated with new homes, 5,500 new jobs, a new town centre, new schools, state-of-the-art health facilities, shops and top sports pitches.
He also met two apprentices who will be learning construction skills on the site – 13 construction apprenticeships will be created as work progresses – as well as many more as the town’s redevelopment continues with new and expanding businesses relocating to it.
The first site being transformed is Quebec Park – this is where 100 new zero carbon homes are now being built to the highest sustainable standards – making them easier and cheaper to run than standard homes. This site is being developed by Radian.
As part of the development on Quebec Park there will be 100 jobs created. The existing Chieftain and Centurion Barracks will be converted into a ‘community enterprise hub’ which will be low-cost accommodation for entrepreneurs and start-ups.
These buildings will accommodate approximately 50 jobs and a further 50 jobs will be created through a new community café. There will also be on-site meeting rooms which will be provided which will be useful for home workers.
The minister also visited Louisburg Barracks where 500 new homes and 500 new jobs will be created. An existing building, called Broxhead House, will be transformed into a Business and Enterprise Centre and a new Future Skills Centre (which will provide a variety of vocational training with a focus on construction skills) will also be built.
The Business and Enterprise Centre is being funded by the Homes and Communities Agency and the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership and the Future Skills Centre is being funded by Hampshire County Council and the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “It’s great to be here today to see work getting underway on these new homes. This site is a fantastic example of how government can work with local partners to bring forward surplus public sector land for new housing and jobs. And we’re not stopping there.
We’ve named the site as one of our flagship Housing Zones, meaning even more support to deliver the homes that hard-working families rightly deserve.”
Cllr Ferris Cowper, Leader of East Hampshire District Council, said: “Whitehill & Bordon’s transformation is one of the country’s most significant regeneration projects and so starting to build homes is not only a huge milestone for the town but it is also of national significance and that’s why the minister has visited us today.
“Today marks the start of much-needed homes being built but the regeneration of the town is about so much more than just homes. It is about creating jobs and opportunities. It is about ensuring the town has state-of-the-art health facilities, top class sports and leisure facilities, top educational opportunities and beautiful green spaces.
“And I am pleased that our plan to get infrastructure into the town before homes has also been happening – for example the construction of the road is well underway.
“Partners are 100% committed to working together to ensure Whitehill & Bordon is given a new lease of life as Hampshire’s green town.
“There is an enormous amount of work happening in the town and you can really see things starting to change on the ground which is tremendously exciting.
“I hope residents are starting to see their town’s transformation unfold on a daily basis into a town which will be the envy of the region. “
Damian Hinds, MP for East Hampshire, said: “The project for Whitehill & Bordon’s future is at a very exciting stage, and I am so pleased the Housing Minister was able to come and see for himself, and give his personal encouragement to the councillors and officers, developers, craftsmen and apprentices, who together are making this a reality.
“It is entirely right that employment space comes from the start in parallel with housing, and the Enterprise Zone designation for the town has been a great boost already.”
James Child, Project Lead at Whitehill & Bordon Regeneration Company, said: “We are committed to creating a balanced neighbourhood and linking the existing town communities with the new, through investment in community infrastructure.
“We are engaging with local residents, businesses, councillors and other stakeholders in the planning and design process, giving local people the opportunity to help shape the future of this exciting scheme, which is the leading brownfield opportunity in the South East.”
Tim Colman, who is part of the Whitehill & Bordon Strategy Board representing the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Whitehill & Bordon is firmly on the government’s radar as it is part of a new Enterprise Zone and this gives us a real opportunity to entice businesses into the area.
“The Enterprise Zone means that businesses which move to the town before 2022 will not have to pay business rates for five years which makes the town a really attractive location to set up shop.
“But it is not just the Enterprise Zone which makes Whitehill & Bordon a great place for businesses, it is also its strategic location, its close proximity to universities, its links to nearby economic hubs and the huge public and private sector investment totalling almost £120million which is being invested in the town. All these elements combined make it an excellent place to do business.”
Andrea Smith, Director of Development & New Business at Radian, said: “Start on site is a great milestone for Quebec Park. As the first development to get underway in the redevelopment of the town, all eyes will be on the new homes as they begin to take shape. With the demolition complete, we are looking forward to starting the first phase construction.”
Tim Hill, managing director of Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes said, “We were delighted to welcome the Minister to Louisburg Barracks. This is an important regeneration project for the region and will provide a mix of two, three, four and five bedroom homes as part of the new community being built in Whitehill & Bordon.”
The two sites are currently owned by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). As the Government’s land, housing and regeneration agency, the HCA acquired the two former barracks in order to get the land ready for house building.
Kevin Bourner, Head of Area for the HCA, said: “The HCA’s aim is to ensure that surplus public sector land is brought forward quickly to help get houses built across the country. By acquiring Louisburg and Quebec Barracks we could use our funding and development expertise to get these challenging sites ready for house building, helping to kick-start the regeneration of Whitehill & Bordon. We are delighted to be working with both Barratt Developments and Radian, who will build more than 600 new homes across the two sites.”
Councillor Roy Perry, Leader of Hampshire County Council, said: “We are pleased to be working with our partners to invest in the regeneration of Whitehill & Bordon.
“This includes investing £0.25 million into a Future Skills centre, a flagship facility for Whitehill & Bordon, designed to help to ensure young people in the local community have the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to take full take advantage of the jobs that will be created by the regeneration of Whitehill & Bordon.
“The Centre will be integral to the area’s economic prosperity, by training young people so they have the skills needed for employment.
“We are also making good progress on the development of the new relief road on the A325, currently constructing 1km of the northern section.
“This road will underpin the area’s regeneration – supporting the redevelopment of the Louisburg Barracks and improving access to the area.”