What it’s like to live in Waterlooville
PUBLISHED: 11:27 13 March 2018
Fry & Kent
Emma Caulton considers the changing fortunes of Waterlooville
Named after the battle and lying a few miles north of Portsmouth, Waterlooville started out as little more than a settlement at a crossroads, as shown on maps of 1895 and 1909. Later maps, dated 1933 and 1945, indicate a little more development, strung out along the main roads – but that’s it.
Well, look at Waterlooville now – all roads, roundabouts and housing estates. It has grown and spilled over into surrounding villages, among them Cowplain, Lovedean and Purbrook, making it difficult to distinguish where one stops and another starts.
Waterlooville is found on the south-east edge of Hampshire, close to where the county brushes up against West Sussex, and positioned at a juncture between town and country. Heading north from Portsmouth along the A3, the land rises to Portsdown Hill, a high chalkland ridge, home to a row of 19th century forts, including Fort Purbrook and Fort Widley, now residential areas. Along the main road is a meagre sprinkling of old flint knap cottages among houses built between the Wars with bays and mock Tudor detailing. Behind stretch housing estates.
Development started post-War and has continued apace ever since. The latest 21st century development is Berewood – a new community complete with primary school and plans for a doctors’ surgery, sports hub, pub and such like. There are a number of developers on site, between them creating an attractive street scene dominated by townhouses. Some feature a Regency-style balcony here and a Georgian-inspired portico there. Others have more contemporary detailing, such as grey-framed windows. It is well done. The payback is that this is high density living with tall three storey houses on small footprints with little garden.
If you want a bigger plot for your money, look to older estates, particularly those of the mid-to-late 20th century. Examples are Ferndale and Highfield Avenue and thereabouts: a mix of ‘60s and ‘70s detacheds along pleasant grass-verged and tree-lined avenues, closes and drives.
Berewood is sited on what appears to have been farmland – local names, among them Cowplain and Sheepwash, are indicative of the area’s past land use. The name of the estate, however, references the Forest of Bere which once covered most of east Hampshire – some 16,000 acres in 1800. Today only piecemeal patches of woodland remain, some scattered among residential roads here and there. One such remnant is the Queen’s Enclosure on Park Road, a welcome oasis of greenery giving the houses along the road a leafy outlook.
This area benefits from other open space: parks and recreation grounds. Jubilee Park is one. Staunton Country Park is another: some 1,000 acres of Regency landscaped parkland and woodland encompassing an ornamental farm with cute alpacas and grumpy-looking lamas, gardens and greenhouses, and Leigh Park Gardens, a great local asset with a network of footpaths and trails, lakes and barbecue sites for hire.
Generally, leisure amenities are sound. Waterloo Leisure Centre with its two pools, award-winning three-storey gym, soft play area and café, is so popular that it is undergoing further investment. There are also a number of golf clubs, including Waterlooville Golf Club, Rowlands Golf Club and Denmead Driving Range.
However, other facilities are in flux. With all these homes you would expect a more comprehensive retail experience. The shopping centre at Waterlooville’s old crossroads is a mixed bag, with useful banks and smart Waitrose alongside empty retail units and a plethora of charity shops. It feels, quite frankly, a little shabby; in need of investment and imagination. Resources are shifting west to Wellington Retail Park – housing big national names such as TK Maxx, M&S Food Store and a flash two-storied Sainsbury’s (which almost makes up for the poor traffic flow through the car park).
But as for arts and culture, you need to travel to The Spring at Havant which provides an inspiring programme of events from comedy through heritage to theatre.
One of the big attractions for families is the schooling. Almost every primary and junior school is rated ‘good’ by Ofsted with Morelands Primary School in Widley said to be ‘outstanding’. Every secondary school is rated ‘good’, too, and Havant & South Downs College, the largest further education college in Hampshire, is judged ‘outstanding’.
If the hurly burly rush of Waterlooville is not for you and you would like a quieter location, look at the villages to the east which have avoided substantial redevelopment. These include Rowlands Castle, a pretty village with a large village green and a good sense of community. Decent local shops include a useful hardware store, post office, garage and a choice of three pubs. There’s even a mainline station, direct to London Waterloo with journeys taking about an hour and a half.
Turn a corner and you are suddenly in a rural landscape. Finchdean remains relatively unspoiled and there, set among the fields at Idsworth is quaint old St Hubert’s church with 14th century wall paintings. This is where country and town, past and present are juxtaposed. Waterlooville area is not a bad place to pitch up: you have good value family houses, decent road and rail links, and good schooling. But what I consider the very best feature of all is the easy access to green spaces and open countryside.
Neil Maxwell, Director, Fry & Kent, Waterlooville
Waterlooville is an area that has seen much change since 1900 when it was known as Waterloo Parish. The legend behind its name stems from local folklore. It is said that soldiers returning from the Battle of Waterloo stopped at the local pub to celebrate their survival and the landlord renamed the pub ‘Heroes of Waterloo’, hence Waterlooville.
The town owes its ascension to the rapid development in the ‘60s and ‘70s of contemporary housing estates; a development which continues today, bringing new residents to an area adapting to welcome its burgeoning population.
The excellent transport links start with the A3 going north to Guildford and London and south to Portsmouth, while the M27 provides access west to Southampton with its superb airport. To the east the A27 takes you to Chichester and Brighton.
Driving north-east or west of Waterlooville quickly brings you into rural areas with pleasant countryside walks, and Queen Elizabeth Country Park with Butser Hill and its huge range of activities from grass skiing to mountain biking. All in all, it’s no small surprise given this location that many families and people retiring are moving to this area.
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