Why you should move to Waterlooville
PUBLISHED: 00:00 23 June 2020
Photograph supplied by Byrne Runciman
Here’s a solution to the country or coast conundrum: what about Waterlooville, positioned between both? asks Emma Caulton
Location, location, location is key to Waterlooville: coast on one side; countryside on the other; and easy connectivity to cities and towns from Portsmouth to Petersfield.
Circumvented by the A3(M), Waterlooville provides easy access south to Langstone Harbour, the beaches of Hayling Island and the waterside village of Emsworth. Alternatively head north for the great outdoors: Queen Elizabeth Country Park and the South Downs National Park, thousands of acres of glorious downland, woodland and distant views.
Britain’s first census in 1801 reveals a rural landscape scattered with small villages and no settlement at what was to become Waterlooville. This area was then the Forest of Bere which stretched from the Sussex border to Winchester.
In 1815 what comprised a few buildings alongside the old London to Portsmouth Road became Waterloo (and later Waterlooville). It was named after a local pub, itself renamed, according to local legend, when a group of soldiers, returning from the Battle of Waterloo, stopped there to celebrate the victory.
More than a century later, Waterlooville was still relatively small. However, post-World War II, it grew rapidly. Its population increased from about 2,880 in 1951 to more than 10,000 by 1971 – growing faster than any other town in Britain. The result is a swathe of suburban development: chalet bungalows and spacious modern family homes along grass-verged avenues, closes, and drives, scattered with parks, playgrounds and pockets of woodland. One such oasis of greenery is Queen’s Inclosure on Park Road – a remnant of the Forest of Bere.
Today development continues. The main battle is getting in and out of Wellington Retail Park (references to Waterloo persist) – its big warehouse-style shops housing names such as TK Maxx and M&S Food Store. This is part of the ongoing West of Waterlooville development. Along with Berewood this is a new community, complete with school, doctors’ surgery, sports hub and pub, leaving Waterlooville’s old town centre behind, which is looking a bit down in the dumps and sorry for itself. It therefore became almost inevitable that Waitrose in the old town centre was earmarked for closure. It was to go this month, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a three-month reprieve with closure now scheduled for September. Locals have voiced concern that Waitrose’s closure signals the demise of the traditional centre.
Otherwise Waterlooville and surrounding villages provides much for families. Sporty types will find a leisure centre, cricket club and golf club as well as plenty of cycling and walking opportunities in the South Downs National Park.
Schools are another draw. At primary level almost every school is Good says Ofsted, among them Berewood Primary, Hart Plain Junior, Padnell Junior, Queen’s Inclosure Primary and Woodcroft Primary. It is the same story at secondary and higher levels. Cowplain Community School, Horndean Technology College, Crookhorn College Of Technology and Purbrook Park School are all Good with South Downs College at Widley rated Outstanding.
There’s a choice of relaxed eateries, among them Giorgio’s, a family-run stone-baked pizzeria and Bird in Hand, a gastropub, both in Waterlooville, and on-trend Four London Road and Nico’s, both in Horndean. Good country pubs include The Hampshire Hog, a dog-friendly Fuller’s inn at Clanfield and old-fashioned Red Lion in Chalton, an idyllic location well off the beaten track.
As for accessibility, the Waterlooville area has benefitted from the main road being rerouted as the A3(M). Three junctions, from Purbrook in the south to Horndean in the north, have access to this stretch of motorway, which heads north to the market town of Petersfield and beyond to London, south to lively Portsmouth and Southsea, and east, via the A27, to cultured Chichester. As for railway services, the nearest stations are Bedhampton, Cosham, Havant and Rowlands Castle, with commutes to London varying between one hour 40 minutes and two hours.
In terms of looks, Waterlooville may not be an obvious destination choice. But with easy access to country and coast, plus community and commutability, good schools, green spaces and good value family homes (and lots of them), it ticks boxes when it comes to conundrum-solving.
Albert Zarb-Cousin, branch manager, Fry & Kent
“Named after the Battle of Waterloo and located in the countryside eight miles north of Portsmouth, the former market town of Waterlooville offers the perfect balance of suburban life. Situated in a shallow valley between the hills overlooking the city of Portsmouth and the South Downs National Park, Waterlooville grew in popularity during the 1950s and 1960s with its town central to the neighbouring villages of Horndean and Clanfield to the north, Denmead and Hambledon to the west and the 1930s villages of Purbrook and Widley to the south.
“The original A3 route ran through the town, however the A3(M) motorway diverted the ever-increasing London to Portsmouth traffic, resulting in a quieter location that’s ideal for families while providing an excellent commuting platform. With more than ten primary schools, five secondary schools and two colleges, education is well served attracting more families to this up-and-coming district which is seeing further growth the West of Waterlooville Major Development Area housing scheme.
“As well as town centre shopping, a large retail park opened in recent years. Supermarkets Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose cater for domestic needs, while leisure facilities include a swimming pool, health centre, bowls club, cricket club and two golf courses. Cyclists and walkers benefit from the open countryside including the Forest of Bere, Queen Elizabeth Country Park and picturesque Meon Valley all on the doorstep.
“There is a vast range of housing: modern one and two bedroom starter homes (£150,000 - £250,000), three and four bedroom family houses with gardens and garages (£250,000 - £500,000), a choice of bungalows perfect for retirement (£250,000-£350,000) and a variety of executive and country homes upwards of £500,000.”