PLANS for up to 3,520 homes on the edge of Basingstoke have taken a step forward after a "pioneering" partnership was formed.

The Manydown development, which was granted outline planning permission last month after 24 years of groundwork, will also see a 250-acre country park, two primary schools, land reserved for a secondary school, two local centres and community facilities.

Now Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Hampshire County Council, who own the land, have entered into a new partnership with one of the UK's leading master developers - Urban&Civic - and a global charitable foundation - The Wellcome Trust.

It means that the £1.2 billion development, which is one of the largest housing-led developments planned in the South East, is expected to begin on-site in late 2021.

It will also see the two councils have a say in the future development of the site, ensuring it keeps to the 'Manydown standard'.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and property, Cllr John Izett, said: “We can now move forward to develop Manydown.

"With a formidable public-private partnership now in place I am confident that all the comprehensive preparations, creative 21st century urban design and planning and attention to the views of our residents will be put to excellent effect in realising a new community.

"Our high ambition is to ensure that when Manydown is built it will be regarded as a standout development across the country in concept and execution, and, most importantly, cherished by those who make their homes and lives there."

Detailed plans for the early phases of Manydown, which could welcome its first residents within three years, will now be drawn up.

The 2,000-acre site is part of the government's garden communities scheme, which includes Shapley Heath near Winchfield among others, and is expected to create thousands of jobs and providing up to 10,000 new homes in the longer term.

Urban&Civic Chief Executive Officer Nigel Hugill said: “The Manydown development is the most significant proposed in Basingstoke since the 1970s.

"The challenges are clear and priorities have been reset. There is no longer a presumption that town can only meet country by means of a petrol engine.

"Equally, the fundamental underlying strengths of Basingstoke have not changed.

"Accessibility, connectivity and a forward-looking conviction will find new resonance in a digital age, located within the enduring magnificence of the surrounding countryside.

"I applaud the determination of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, in conjunction with Hampshire County Council, to create a partnership capable of keeping hold of such bold ambition. Urban&Civic will relish taking charge of operational delivery."