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Jonathan Shaw MP, Regional Minister for the South East and five young Rowner residents were guests of honour to witness the start of the Rowner Regeneration project.
The £145 million Rowner Renewal project is set to transform the Precinct and surrounding areas of Rowner over the next seven years.
Demolition of the first houses – number 6 and 7 Winchester Court began today in front of around 40 specially invited guests all donning Rowner Renewal hard hats and high viz vests. Before the regeneration event the Minister had also met people who have secured jobs in Rowner through the Government's Future Jobs Fund.
The children, representing the future of Rowner, were winners in Rowner Renewal’s recent Site Safety Poster competition and were very proud to see their winning posters printed high on the new construction site hoardings.
Phase One of the project has now officially begun on the first 219 new homes. Up to 700 new homes will replace 500 properties and there is a re-provision of retail and community facilities, as well as the creation of local employment and training opportunities. Tesco is the chosen retailer for Phase Two of the project and will be providing up to 225 new jobs. Taylor Wimpey the construction partner has also pledged to fund five new construction apprenticeships throughout the lifetime of the project.
South East Regional Minister Jonathan Shaw said:
"This is a momentous day for Rowner; the demolition heralds an exciting new beginning for the community. I congratulate all those who have made this significant regeneration project possible; it is a fine example of the public and private sectors working in partnership with local residents, for the benefit of the community, to build a stronger future.
"The Government is committed to investment in housing; we know having a stable, secure place to call home is one of the most important things for individuals and families. This project will deliver that, as well as jobs and training. It is a win-win situation."
Hazel Warwick, Spokesperson for the Rowner Renewal Partnership and Group Development Director of Portsmouth Housing Association responded by thanking the minister and said:
“We are delighted that the Minister for the South East could witness this historic occasion and see for himself the project in detail and our plans for the future. However our shining stars are the children and future generation of Rowner – this is why we are all here. Well done to Ashleigh, Tegan, Dylan, Frances and Ayesha for their success in the poster competition but also thank you for being our special guests of honour by representing the future of Rowner and taking part in our event today.”
Cllr Mark Hook, Leader of Gosport Borough Council :
“This is great news for the people of Gosport. The talking stops and the work starts with this, the demolishment of houses in what will be the first stage of the biggest transformation the Borough has seen in many, many years. The long awaited new houses, new lifestyle that the people of Gosport have waited patiently for is beginning, and after being involved in the project since the outset I am delighted to see the work commence.”
Kevin Bourner, Head of Area at the Homes and Communities Agency, commented:
“Today is an important step in the renewal of the Rowner Estate and marks the first phase of redevelopment that will transform this area. I am delighted that the HCA has been able to provide over £10m in funding to date and offer support and expertise to our partners for one of the most important regeneration projects across the south east of England.”
Nigel Holland, Southern Counties MD for Taylor Wimpey UK Ltd said:
“Regeneration projects such as this can often be fraught with difficulties, but in the case of the Rowner Estate the commitment of all those involved to make this happen has been tremendous. Not least has been the determination of the people of Rowner to see their dream become a reality and Taylor Wimpey is proud to be part of that process both today and for the rest of the project.”
Cllr Colin Davidovitz, Executive Member of Hampshire County Council said: “This is a great day for the people of Rowner who can now see a tangible start to better housing and a safer, more secure community. We are proud to support this project and together we look forward to the first residents moving in.”
Cllr Sean Woodward, Chairman of PUSH (Partnership for Urban South Hampshire) added:
“PUSH is very pleased to have played a significant part in bringing the regeneration of Rowner, long anticipated by local residents, to fruition. I wish the project and people well.”