FLEET'S next new minitown loomed large this week as Hart Council released a detailed planning brief for 1100 homes expected to be built on the former Gurkha camp site at Church Crookham over the next four to five years.

Hart has now begun its public consultation on the proposals for the 185 acre Queen Elizabeth Barracks site and a detailed exhibition will be staged on the site next Thursday and Friday (Jan 31 and Feb 1) between 10 am and 2pm. Copies of the brief are available at the Civic Offices in Fleet and on www.hart.gov.uk.

The site is now owned by Bryant Homes who paid for the production of the draft development brief. About a quarter of the new homes are to be affordable housing. They will take advantage of the south facing site by including passive solar heating.

The Gurkhas will not be forgotten. A tree for every Gurkha soldier who died whilst based at Church Crookham has been planted in a memorial orchard and Gurkha connections will be included when the streets are named.

Consultation will be concluded at the end of February and the amended version should go to Hart's full Council in April. It should be followed by outline planning permission in June and detailed planning consent in the autumn with the first houses being built by Spring next year.

Coun. Stephen Parker, Hart's cabinet member for statutory services including planning, said:"This is an exciting opportunity for Hart to create an outstanding development which will enhance the lives of those who live there." He urged local people to look at the brief and express their views before the council considers granting planning consent.

The barracks were first built in 1914 as a depot for the Royal Army Medical Corps. The existing barracks were built during the last war and the buildings in Wakefords Copse followed between 1948 and 1954.

The brief suggests that the estate will be designed for low speeds of between 10 and 20 mph with walking and cycling placed before cars. There will be a "village centre" with shops.

MOD Has refused to allow any link with neighbouring married quarters estates for security reasons but the brief says that if those homes returned to civilian use it should be possible to link up. Hart also wants sites for a community hall, a creche, a primary school and a doctors' surgery to be incorporated.