Best things about living in Fareham and Whiteley
PUBLISHED: 09:00 29 December 2014
Between them, Fareham and Whiteley encompass Hampshire’s past and future; Emma Caulton pays the area a visit
Comparing and contrasting ‘neighbours’ Fareham and Whiteley is an interesting exercise. Whiteley is as bright and shiny as a new toy. Fareham has faded charm. Whiteley is all tidy estates of Georgian-style townhouses and twee terraced homes. Fareham has the real thing: period properties including old sea captains’ houses. Whiteley is partly surrounded by woodland. Fareham has a waterside location. Until recently Whiteley could only be reached by one road; at the time of writing a decision is being made on permanently opening Yew Tree Drive, allowing cross-country access from the north and alleviating tailbacks on the M27. Fareham may have better road connections, but it is divided from its waterfront by a busy carriageway.
Fareham has a mainline station. Whiteley is a walk to Swanwick train station (Portsmouth to Southampton line). Fareham has history and character. Whiteley doesn’t. According to my Ordnance Survey map of the area (admittedly dated 1993) Whiteley doesn’t exist. Well, it does as a farm. I remember visiting Whiteley less than ten years ago. Its centre was a designer outlet village and it felt like there should be tumbleweed blowing through. Well, baby, look at you now! Today the shopping centre is all new with glossy glass and steel and cedar cladding. The shops are almost entirely familiar brands (M&S, Next, Paperchase, Wagamana, Cafe Nero et al) and there’s a cinema complex on the way (to be completed next summer). Landscaping is fresh and green, and parking is easy. Abutting the shopping centre are housing developments with garden squares and playgrounds. Families can easily stroll to the shops or cycle, as there is a network of greenways. There’s a leisure centre and at its heart, a big recreation ground. I am especially taken by Rockup in the town centre (just opened), an adventure of climbing frames for kids and adults. Altogether Whiteley is a successful reinvention of the shopping centre as a community and leisure hub. This is something that, it seems to me, Fareham has struggled to achieve despite its good covered shopping centre, street art of ironwork sculpture and arts centre. However there is a bit of a burgeoning creative scene in Fareham – it has the right amount of character and quirkiness for that. I can’t see that happening in Whiteley anytime soon.
What they share in common are thriving business parks - Whiteley’s are lush, landscaped affairs with swish glass encased buildings and blockbuster names like ITV Meridian, National Air Traffic Services and Zurich.
Most importantly, both are children-friendly with good value, family-sized property and decent schools. The Ofsted inspection reports are impressive - most are rated good with a number of outstandings, including Whiteley Primary School, Harrison Primary School, and Cams Hill Secondary School.
All in all, they may not be as fashionable as other towns and cities in the county, but there is a lot to be said in Fareham and Whiteley’s favour if you’re looking for more house for your money (there can’t be many places you can pick up a Georgian detached townhouse for £450,000), good schools and a decent quality of life with a mix of residential, shopping, leisure and business facilities on the doorstep. Both share a feeling of being up and coming. It’s just a question of choosing between old and quirky (Fareham) or new and shiny (Whiteley).