IT is the first village to be built in Hampshire for more than a century.

This is a graphic bird's-eye view of how Knowle Village, on the edge of Fareham, will look as the developers add the finishing touches to their blueprint for the area.

Modern day planners have often been accused of creating settlements which lack a community heart and are simply dormitory towns.

But at Knowle, where hundreds of homes have been built, they have been striving to build around a village green style concept which will appeal to all age groups.

There are already plans for the first cricket match so the rural ring of leather on willow will be echoing around Knowle.

An old chapel has already been converted into a community building and there are two children's play areas.

There is also a convenience store and off-licence as well as a hairdressers.

Other buildings around the village square have also been earmarked for a wine bar/café bar.

This attraction is seen as one of the major keys in the social bonding of Hampshire's newest community.

Click here to see an aerial photo and map of Knowle Village

There has been criticism from some quarters that with the completion of the housing development less than two years away community facilities have been slow to come on stream.

Fareham Council leader Sean Woodward says: "There are some pleasant aspects to the development but it has just got that unfinished feel."

But developers are working hard to put this right.

Future leisure facilities include a pavilion, skate park, football pitches, multi-use games area and cricket pitch and it is expected that these will be completed in early 2009.

A spokesperson for the developers, Berkeley Homes, said: "As part of our ongoing works to improve facilities available to the residents at Knowle Village, the village green was re-laid during the summer of 2007 to incorporate cricket and football pitches.

"This forms the first phase of the works which will ultimately include a new community building and additional play areas.

"As a result of poor weather conditions during last summer these works have been delayed and as a result the village green has been out of use longer than we had initially anticipated.

"We appreciate that this has caused an inconvenience and we thank the residents for their continued patience in this matter."

Many newcomers might be unaware of Knowle's past. The 53- acre housing development was part of the Hampshire County Lunatic Asylum which covered 100 acres and housed more than 1,000 patients.

The asylum became Knowle Mental Hospital in 1923 and was renamed as Knowle Hospital in 1948. The hospital closed in 1996.

For a while a question mark hung over the future of the barren area. With the insatiable demand for homes in this fast growing corner of the world it was not long before developers were homing in on this huge tract of land.

Its strategic position close to the motorway network also put it top of the must list for builders.

The imposing former hospital buildings have been transformed to create a key part of the 550- home development. Around a quarter of the housing project has been a major makeover of the old hospital blocks.

The foundations for Knowle Village were laid about eight years ago and it is now moving into its final phase. There are still 71 homes to be built and work is expected to finish in 2010.

Berkeley Homes' sales manager Kerry Jordan said the aim was to create a mixed community appealing to those who were setting up their first home to others buying top of the range properties.

Those finding it increasingly difficult to get on the first rung of the housing ladder have not been forgotten.

Thames Valley Housing have built 26 one and two-bedroom apartments tailor-made for firsttime buyers.

A package of social events have been put together to fire up that community spirit.

They include a garden showcase exhibition in June and a bank holiday weekend residents' barbecue in August.

The first cricket match will be played on the village green in September and the following month there will be a five-a-side football competition.

In November there will be a residents' bonfire and firework display and in December a Christmas carol service with mulled wine and mince pies.

Children from nearby Wickham Junior School have planted a time capsule in the Knowle's North Earth.

When it is eventually unearthed it is hoped that those future generations will feel verymuch of the village scene which developers are striving to create.