IT'S official - Elvetham Heath, Hart, has been named as Britain's richest community. Average gross household incomes are £64,000 in the minitown, which is still being built on the fringe of Fleet, where the GU51-1 postcode is now a status symbol.

The figures are contained in a "Wealth of the Nation" report from CACI Information Solutions, which also places Elvetham Heath second highest on a percentage basis in the ranking of areas with more households earning over £100,000. Some 552 households have an income over £100,000.

But it is not a "rich ghetto", for 16% is social housing, with one-third of those properties being rented and the rest sold on a shared ownership basis by three housing associations. Hopeful tenants and buyers for these social housing properties must register with Hart Council, which nominates people as houses and flats become available.

The new town of 1,868 homes is due to be completed by a consortium of builders in 2008, and there has been no shortage of buyers, as each phase is built.

Current lowest and highest prices for houses there are: £185,000 for a two bed apartment and £760,000 for a five bed house.

The 311 acre site lies alongside the M3, but the noise is abated by special sound fences. The majority of residents have come from within a ten mile radius. Nearly one-third are from Fleet and Church Crookham, with another one-third moving down from London.

The minitown was born amid fierce controversy, after protestors battled for years to stop development on the land, which was owned by the Calthorpe family. Then it was known as Railroad Heath and the housing potential was sought after only by toads and squirrels.

The bulldozers revved up in 1999 and spent months felling thousands of trees and clearing scrub. Then the new estate was named after the heathland it replaced. Some 45 acres have been kept as a nature reserve, tended by ranger Laura Willing.

The self-contained community has its own civic hall, Safeway supermarket, and a school. A nursery will open next month and a pub/restaurant, to be called The de Havilland Arms, is due to open in August.

Befitting Britain's richest community, the church which meets there will have a "landmark building" costing £2 million. The ecumenical "Church on the Heath" has a 100 strong congregation which meets in the community hall at the moment.

Four denominations (Anglican, Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed) help to support the minister, the Rev David Price. The new church will be built opposite Safeway and will seat about 300, with its own hall, kitchen and meeting rooms.

Commenting on the "richest area" figures, Nick Scregg, Managing Director of Elvetham Heath Developments, says: "We are very pleased with our place in the league tables. This is a high quality development and the feel of the place is one of aspiration."