Shared-ownership flats in the pretty Hampshire village of Church Crookham

Shared-ownership homes are on offer at an ex-Gurkha base in the pretty Hampshire village voted the happiest spot in Britain.
Opportunities to buy shared-ownership property in the home counties are rare but the redevelopment of Queen Elizabeth Barracks - former home of the Gurkhas - in the pretty Hampshire village of Church Crookham means those on a tight budget aren't excluded from a highly sought-after area.

This top-notch commuter destination is part of the district of Hart, one of the most affluent areas of the country and named Britain's best place to live three years running in the Halifax quality of life survey. The study criteria range from crime rates, to levels of attainment at local schools, to "happiness" ratings.

The barracks, decommissioned in 2000, is being turned into nearly 900 new houses and flats by developer Taylor Wimpey. So far, in the region of 200 properties have been built and work is due to complete on this vast project around 2020.

Thames Valley Housing (tvhsales.co.uk) in association with Bracknell Forest Homes has an initial tranche of 30 shared-ownership properties that will be move-in ready by about May. More than half are three-bedroom houses with a full market value of about £300,000. Buying a 40 per cent share of one of these houses will therefore cost some £120,000.

There are also four one-bedroom flats, six two-bedroom flats and four two-bedroom houses on offer. Prices for these properties will be announced closer to the official launch in March 2014.

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Affordable homes are part of the plan for decommissioned Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Church Crookham, Hampshire

A key reason people move out of London is the search for more open space. This development is being built on 68 acres of a 324-acre site, which means the homes will be surrounded by woodland and open spaces threaded with footpaths and cycle routes. The completed scheme will also have a community centre, allotments, playgrounds, shops and an athletics track.
Until then Church Crookham has a handful of shops and two pubs. The garden of the Fox and Hounds is particularly popular in summer as a place to enjoy a pint beside the Basingstoke Canal which runs through the village. The schooling situation is a little mixed. There are plans to build a new infant school on the site and expand and invest in local junior schools. At present Church Crookham Junior School requires improvement according to its latest Ofsted report. On the other hand nearby Tweseldown Infant School is rated as "outstanding", and Court Moor School — for seniors — in Fleet, the nearest town, is considered "good" by the government schools watchdog.

As well as a senior school, Fleet has plenty of high street shops, cafés, restaurants and a leisure centre. Its train station, about two and a half miles from Church Crookham, has services to Waterloo from 40 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £4,420 and a dedicated bus service from Church Crookham is planned.

Kush Rawal, assistant marketing and sales director of Thames Valley Housing, said the lack of affordable homes in the home counties is an unfortunate side effect of the recession.

"Developers scaled right back on their operations and have focused on small-scale but high-value developments. These were often too small to require any affordable housing on the site, or they only offered a very small number of affordable homes," he explains.

Which is why the Queen Elizabeth Barracks scheme, which will feature more affordable homes in later phases, is such an unusual opportunity.

"The location is one of the best places to live in the UK, you are in a great commuter spot, and you will be surrounded by greenery," says Rawal. "For people who are looking for family-size accommodation it is going to tick a lot of boxes."

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