Wellesley in Aldershot are celebrating after having made the short list for a prestigious neighbourhood transformation award at the UK Housing Awards. This is the sector’s most prestigious awards and showcase the very best of UK Housing and Organisations that are delivering high-quality homes and services in partnership with the communities they serve.
In 2011 Grainger plc, was appointed by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation to deliver a new community on its former Garrison site in Aldershot. The 148ha site combines quality designed new build homes with the refurbishment and reinvigoration of historic military buildings, including the magnificent Cambridge Military Hospital, to create a pioneering new neighbourhood where resident wellbeing is at its heart.
Alan Chitson, Development Manager for Wellesley – Grainger PLC said: “It is such a great achievement to have been shortlisted. So much hard work has been put into transforming the former garrison site into a new neighbourhood people can really call home and it is great to have that work recognised. There is such a strong sense of community spirit and pride that exists here amongst our residents and we’d like to thank all those who submitted their testimonials which supported our application to the awards.”
The vision for Wellesley, which will deliver 3850 new homes to the area has always been to be a catalyst for regeneration of the wider Aldershot area, providing a green and sustainable community founded on military heritage, whilst breathing new life into the area. Grainger, the DIO and Rushmoor Borough Council, have established a strong partnership aligned to drive much needed economic redevelopment to Aldershot.
Since Grainger arrived in Aldershot, they have encouraged the local community to make the most of the one-off opportunities that Wellesley offers. Ranging from a community enterprise centre nurturing start-up businesses, working with developers to ensure employment opportunities are offered to locals and offering undeveloped areas to local groups and charities, including a foodbank.
Grainger are committed to creating a lasting and vibrant community with residents at the core and employs its own dedicated Community Development Manager supporting and enabling the growing neighbourhood to become a prosperous and sustainable new community. Each resident is also given a unique opportunity to be a key part of the story and automatically becomes a stakeholder of the Residents Trust, empowering the community to have their say and influence the environment around them.
Community engagement projects created and nurtured by the residents are key to ensuring the long-term success of Wellesley. One example is a current project which involves re-developing an area formally associated with antisocial behaviour to create a community garden for use by residents. Wellesley have 2 large planters (Incredible Edibles) but the demand for community garden space is growing as more residents move in. Working together on the garden project is a team represented by a number of local groups including Rushmoor’s Nepali Community, the Wellesley Residents Committee and the Wellspring Church. Their vision is for the garden to not only be a place to grow plants and encourage healthier eating but to create community cohesion through the sharing of culture and food.
Encouraging healthy living and resident wellbeing is central. Grainger have also delivered 110 hectares of interlinked woodland, known as the Wellesley Woodlands, for everyone to enjoy. Grainger and the DIO have invested into transforming the area into an award winning community asset, with a network of paths and trails and a calendar of family events annually. The facility welcomed 425,912 visitors last year, who enjoyed a haven of biodiverse green space. To ensure the space is maintained and utilised for the long term, Grainger has carefully selected The Land Trust, The Conservation Volunteers and Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership to manage the woodlands and encourage local involvement.
The ongoing transformation of this long-abandoned brownfield site is inspiring positive change in Aldershot. Grainger’s close relationship with the local residents as well as their excellent partnership with local council is enabling the town to begin a new and exciting chapter.
The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on Friday 25th November 2022.