WORK has finally begun on the first stage of the redevelopment of Farnborough’s Pyestock estate — with up to 200 homes set to breathe new life into the area.

Council and housing officials gathered on Tuesday to mark the start of the first stage of development, with all in agreement that it is well overdue.

Chairman of Hart Housing Association, part of the Sentinel Housing Group, Dick Wylie, said the project would make a huge difference to the lives of local people.

“The message for everybody is that this project is the living proof of how hard work can provide the solutions that our community demand.

“They have waited a long time, but when it is finished they will have a nice new estate. The community is then up to the residents. I hope we can build a community that we can all be proud of.”

The sight of diggers and workmen will come as a huge relief to people on the estate, who have seen their neighbourhood become terribly run-down.

Hart Housing Association conceded more than 20 years ago that many of the homes, found to have a progressive weakness known as concrete cancer, were beyond saving.

Some of the homes were demolished two years ago and the families rehoused.

But that is where the work stopped, and residents have become increasingly angry at the lack of action.

Phase one, due for full completion in July next year, will provide 12 bungalows and 27 houses, with the first occupiers moving in this September.

The second stage, due to start in the autumn, will provide housing for the remaining long-term tenants and 31 additional homes for Rushmoor and Hart councils.

It will also provide 20 homes for key workers such as nurses and teachers, funded by the government’s ‘Challenge Fund’ initiative.

The projected cost of the overall project is £22million, of which a £5.3m social housing grant has been secured for affordable housing.

Chief executive of the Sentinel Housing Group, Martin Nurse, said: “It is tremendous to have finally got things started — it has been a long time coming.

“Unfortunately, there have been changes in funding in that time but we now have everything sorted out and are now finalising the planning details for phases two and three.”

Local councillor Peter Moyle was equally delighted: “It is ironic that today is the 13th because when I was elected as a councillor 13 years ago, I made a promise to the local people that I would make this project happen.

“I hope everybody concerned will work together to make this better accommodation, better environment, and a better community.”

Pictured are Cllr Brian Jupp Mayor of Rushmoor, Dick Wylie and Cllr Jonathon Glenn vice chairman of Hart District Council.