The partners behind the ongoing transformation of Whitehill & Bordon gathered recently to celebrate the incredible achievements made as part of the town’s regeneration.
Since the Army left the town in 2015 local authorities, landowners, government bodies, developers, businesses and voluntary groups have worked hand-in-hand with the community to make life-changing and lasting improvements to the town.
The partnership includes East Hampshire District Council, Hampshire County Council, Whitehill Town Council, Defence Infrastructure Organisation, Enterprise M3 LEP, Homes England, NHS, Abri, Barratt Homes, Whitehill & Bordon Regeneration Company and the Whitehill & Bordon Community Trust.
The partnership came together on Thursday 12 January to look back at all that has been achieved over the last seven years and more.
Following the departure of the Army, a plan was put in place to transform Whitehill & Bordon from a garrison to a green, healthy and connected town.
Since that time fantastic new facilities have been built to encourage healthy living, improve environmental performance, entice commercial investment and develop employment opportunities.
Award-winning projects such as the 7km green loop have encouraged active and sustainable travel, new businesses and skills have been nurtured at BASE and the Future Skills Centre, and a new secondary school has been delivered.
The construction of the relief road improved traffic congestion and access, a brand new leisure centre helps residents stay healthy and active and The Shed offers fantastic shops and food.
These facilities have been delivered thanks to the truly collaborative approach between the partners. They are thanks to a clear, aspirational plan, investment from landowners and the public sector, and by working alongside the local community.
The partners met at BOSC to celebrate the success of the regeneration project so far and look ahead to the work still to come.
What the partners say
East Hampshire District Council
Cllr Richard Millard, Leader of East Hampshire District Council, said: “It is incredible what this partnership has achieved in such a short time in Whitehill & Bordon.
“In 2015 we had ambitious plans to transform the town, and now, in 2023, you can see the huge impact our partnership has had, bringing incredible facilities, jobs and life-changing opportunities.
“These have all been delivered by working collaboratively and engaging with the community. And it won’t stop here. There are lots of exciting projects in the pipeline and the town will continue to reap the benefits of this ground-breaking partnership for years to come.”
Hampshire County Council
Speaking about Hampshire County Council’s role in the town’s regeneration, County Council Leader, Councillor Rob Humby, said: “We are proud to have worked with our partners to play a leading role in creating a vibrant, green and economically prosperous town. We are fortunate that we were able to support with investment and to draw on our scale, capacity and expertise to deliver major infrastructure in the form of the A325 relief road, the Future Skills Centre and a new secondary school facility for Oakmoor School (pictured below).
“I am delighted that we continue to play a key role in further improvements for the town through, for example, the Green Grid network of walking and cycling routes and access improvements for Arrival Square to make it easier for residents to travel to the High Street on foot or by bicycle.”
Whitehill Town Council
Whitehill Town Council Leader, Cllr Andy Tree, said: “Since joining the East Hampshire District Council-chaired Strategy Group in 2020, I have been able to see at a higher level how the Defence Infrastructure Organisation seeks to responsibly hand over to the community in terms of the regeneration and welcome many of the positives we have seen to date, including Oakmoor School, new leisure centre and a start to the new town centre with The Shed.
“The town council is playing its part in protecting greenspaces, including Bordon Inclosure which is long-term leased from DIO and funded by developer contributions. This has happened against a challenging national backdrop, including the pandemic and now national financial situation. We have some challenging times to come with significant road closures this year to create the arrival square, expectation from residents in terms of what the new town centre will ultimately provide and concerns about delivery to key parts of the regeneration, such as health facilities. It is vital that those in power understand the views of residents and I will continue to ensure a community voice is heard. I remain cautiously optimistic about the future of Whitehill & Bordon."
Defence Infrastructure Organisation
The DIO plans, builds and services armed forces infrastructure. Robert Smith, Defence Infrastructure Organisation – Estates, Head of Major Disposals, said: “When I first visited Whitehill & Bordon in 2012, I met with many parts of the community and senior council leaders at officer and member level. What I got were two things. Fear, that the MOD’s departure would result in uncontrolled development with the community feeling the brunt of what this could bring, but secondly, a great aspiration and commitment to do something different. Much of the scoping work to convert these aspirations into reality was undertaken in the early years between 2012 in 2016. These foundations and principles laid between us, set one of the strongest partnership frameworks in how we have operated ever since.
“What we have collectively invested over the last five to six years in terms of professional acumen, capital, commitment and hard work has resulted in the physical and landscape change we see and value today. It is a remarkably different place to the one I first came to ten years ago. A huge amount can still be achieved and there are opportunities we can, and must, collectively pursue. This is a fantastic regeneration project, with more to be done, and my organisation and WBRC will continue to play our part to help us deliver the Vision we all set out to achieve.”
Enterprise M3 LEP
Sue Littlemore, Joint Manager Director of Enterprise M3 LEP, said: “We are proud to have been part of the ongoing transformation of Whitehill & Bordon as part of our overall vision to create a low carbon high growth region. As both a strategic and delivery partner EM3 has supported key elements of the development via out Local Growth Fund, totalling £34 million investment. This has included improving transport links and £3.4 million towards the Green Loop, a 7km network of walking and cycle paths, encouraging sustainable travel. We are also delighted to have been able to support both the BASE Bordon Innovation Centre and the Future Skills Centre, promoting business and skills growth. Whitehall & Bordon also forms part of the EM3 Enterprise Zone and we look forward to continuing to attract businesses and investment to the area via our ongoing work to promote the Enterprise Zone to both national and international investors.”
Jonathan Turner, from Homes England, said: "The work which has been undertaken at Whitehill & Bordon to regenerate and transform the area shows both the benefits of a long-term approach and the importance of a wide group of stakeholders and partners working together towards a shared vision. We look forward to the continued work of the partnership in transforming the town and supporting the local community.”
Ralph Facey, Executive Director Operations, at Abri, a housing association, said: “Abri exists to create communities and empower lives, and I’m delighted to see that through collaborative working with the community and like-minded partners, that’s exactly what we’ve achieved here in Whitehill & Bordon.
“Our mixed-tenure development, Quebec Park, has provided the community with access to low carbon homes that meet the differing needs of the community, whether that’s access to affordable housing or opportunities for home ownership. This has been supported by community facilities like our Café 1759, a not-for-profit community café, creating a central hub for residents to access support and opportunities to help them thrive in the area.
“The successful regeneration of the area demonstrates just how much can be achieved by working together for the needs of our communities. I look forward to seeing what more we can achieve over the next seven years.”
Whitehill & Bordon Regeneration Company
James Child, Project Lead at The Whitehill & Bordon Regeneration Company, said: "It was good to take a moment and reflect on everything that has been achieved so far with this project. When you’re in the thick of it, it’s easy to forget how far you’ve come because the focus is always on how much is left to do.
"This is a long, expansive project that requires the support, input, and expertise of many different people and organisations. We are immensely grateful to all of our partners, particularly the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, for the ways in which they have helped get so much done in such a short period of time and we look forward to continuing this success as we push onward.
"Successful regeneration requires patient, dedicated work from all corners of public and private industry and governance, but most of all it requires the support of the local community. So we want to say thank you to the people of Whitehill & Bordon. It is your vigilance, concern, and passion for the town that will help ensure the legacy of this regeneration is positive and spans generations. A town full of optimism and opportunity where quality of life is the most important thing. A town that people are proud to call home.
"There is, of course, an awful lot of work ahead of us - more, perhaps, than has already been done - but we approach the task with confidence and excitement in the full knowledge that our shared success will be measured by that which we leave behind."