Plans by the housing association in charge of North Town’s regeneration to merge with another provider have taken a step forward.

First Wessex wants to join forces with fellow Hampshire-based housing association Sentinel to become the county’s largest provider.

The merger would create a new company called VIVID, which would be in charge of 30,000 homes and would have a “strong commitment to addressing housing need and building more new homes in the region”.

The deal is now closer to becoming reality after an industry regulator, the Homes and Communities Agency, gave its full support.

The two associations have to conclude further negotiations before seeking final approval from the Financial Conduct Authority.

Peter Walters, chief executive of First Wessex, said the merger plans were “progressing well”, having already gained the approval of the boards and shareholders of both companies.

The backing of the regulator would help the deal “remain on track”, he said.

Mr Walters added: “We’re very excited by the positive impact that VIVID will make on our ability to build more homes for local people.”

This is good news for residents of First Wessex’s North Town housing estate, which is being regenerated after more than 60 years.

First Wessex Homes is in the process demolishing 471 flats to make way for new homes in six phases in the estate, bordered by North Lane to the west, Deadbrook Lane to the north and Eastern Road to the south.

Phases one and two have been completed, creating 243 new homes. Phases three and four are under construction and will deliver 213 more homes when it finishes this autumn.

Each phase includes homes for rent, sale and shared ownership.

First Wessex is also working with other contractors on two housing developments in Farnborough.

Affordable rentals in Birchett Road are expected to be ready in the next two months, while shared ownership homes in Cripley Road are due to be handed over soon.

Sentinel is currently working on over-55s flats at Campbell Place and Curtis Court in Fleet.

It is also developing affordable rentals and shared ownership homes at Rifle Range Farm in Hartley Wintney and social rented housing at Wrecclesham Road in Farnham.

Mark Perry, chief executive of Sentinel, said: “VIVID will bring together the expertise, financial strength and housebuilding potential of two well-established, innovative and successful organisations.

“It will also create a vibrant, high-performing and influential business which is better placed to respond to the ever-changing environment in which we work.”