THE current home of Fareham’s museum could end up as a bar.
As part of the document which will help shape Fareham borough’s development through to 2026, the council has said that it believes Westbury Manor is under-used as a museum.
Grade II listed Westbury Manor, on West Street in Fareham was saved from disrepair and turned into the borough’s museum in the late 1980s.
The draft local plan report suggests that a museum could be incorporated into a new multi-purpose venue as part of long-term plans for the wider Market Quay area instead.
This would free Westbury Manor for other uses. The report said: ‘The most appropriate future use is likely to be a restaurant, café or bar.’
But local groups have criticised the proposals.
Anne Baxandall, acting chairwoman of the Friends of Fareham Museum, said: ‘The Friends have written a letter of concern to the council.
‘We have pointed out various reasons why that particular building is suited to be a museum.
‘It’s a beautiful building – it attracts attention, it’s near the bus station and near the taxi rank. And if you want to bring schools or disabled people, there is plenty of space at the front to pick people up or drop them off.’
Brenda Clapperton of the Fareham Society said: ‘They aren’t saying the museum is going to close, per se, and if a purpose-built museum can be done, then that would be lovely, but until we see those plans, I can’t think of a better location than Westbury Manor.
‘We feel that Westbury Manor as a building has done very well in its use as a museum.
‘We think it’s rather questionable that the use they are proposing would be better.’
And someone close to the museum who asked not to be named added: ‘This year when the Olympic torch came to Fareham, the museum had its best day ever – there were more than 3,000 people through the doors.
‘As a museum Westbury Manor is a space for all the community to use, people can come and go and enjoy it without any pressure.
‘If it was one of these other uses, people wouldn’t have the freedom to do that.’