A full quota of affordable homes has been pledged by the developer behind Aldershot’s Project Wellesley development, following concerns over previous promises going unfulfilled.
Project Wellesley, managed by Grainger, will bring 3,850 new homes to Aldershot over the next 20 years, 35% of which will be affordable under Rushmoor Borough Council’s requirements for all new developments. This equates to 1,347 homes in the scheme.
Councillors recently expressed their disappointment that a number of projects passed by the council’s development control committee had ended up not including this number of affordable homes due to the developers describing the requirement as ‘not viable’.
Rushmoor’s head of planning Keith Holland admitted two weeks ago that, in circumstances where the council was keen to see development start, companies were being excused of the affordable quota in order to prevent delays if they presented convincing evidence.
However, Grainger’s director of corporate affairs Kurt Mueller this week promised there would be no backing out of this agreement in Project Wellesley’s case.
“It’s not a problem here,” he said. “Every development is different and often those situations arrive when it is unviable for the developer – 35% is a robust number.
“But this will be as per the agreement we’ve got. There is absolutely no reason why it won’t happen.
“It's a long project but there’s no change to that plan.
“One reason I think we were chosen is we are a really long-term business.
“Taking on a project that will take years doesn’t scare us.”
Grainger was appointed as project manager by the Ministry of Defence, which owns the land on which the urban extension will be built.
The plans, approved on July 4, also include in the development are a new slip road onto the A331, two new primary schools, green spaces, sports and community facilities and the refurbishment of six listed buildings.
Grainger has begun marketing the first phase of the project, which includes 228 homes, and is currently seeking a development partner to deliver these.
Commercial property and real estate services adviser CBRE has been appointed to work alongside Grainger to find the building partner.
The marketing of Wellesley phase one comes at a time when there are signs of recovery for the UK housing market, and customer confidence is being encouraged by government schemes such as Help to Buy.
Jasper Masters, senior director at CBRE, said his firm was looking forward to being involved.
He said: “We are excited to be working alongside Grainger to market the first phase of Wellesley.
“The development represents an attractive investment opportunity for house builders looking to extend their exposure to a market which is very much in recovery, and in an area which has always had a high demand for homes.
“Wellesley will bring long term benefits to the local area, with a clear vision to enhance an already thriving community.
“We look forward to working with housebuilders who can help make this vision a reality.”
Grainger's search for a young apprentice to work alongside the team in delivering Project Wellesley, also called the Aldershot Urban Extension, could also be at an end.
Development director John Beresford said that a letter was due to be sent out this week to the successful candidate and that, if they accepted, they would be due to start on October 14.