THE last bricks are being laid and final surfacing put down for a new car park that was originally due to open more than a year ago.
The multi-storey car park off Civic Way in Fareham had been due to open alongside a new department store in the neighbouring Fareham Shopping Centre.
But after the relationship between Debenhams and the shopping centre went sour in March 2009 – leading to the department store pulling out of the deal – work on the car park was also put on hold.
However, with the legal problems solved, Debenhams is now committed to opening a new 28,000 sq ft store at the centre in June.
The 209-space car park, which will lead straight into the store, is expected to open at the same time.
Alastair Coulson, project director for the shopping centre, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to get it back on track and our contractors Gilbert-Ash are progressing well and are on schedule.
‘For a long while – for more than a year – there was nothing happening here on site, but now the boys are cracking on well and are on track to finish in June.
‘Weather can impact on the work which is why we haven’t given an exact opening date yet, but we don’t envisage any more problems.
‘We are hoping to have the opening with Debenhams and the car park on the same day so there’s just a few last meetings we’re having to make sure that happens.’
Mr Coulson refused to say how much the car park scheme has cost.
Once it opens, running of the four-floor car park will be handed over to Fareham Borough Council.
Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of the council, said: ‘The deal has always been that the car park would be built and then handed over to the council.
‘This project hasn’t cost Fareham a penny.
‘And as part of the deal relating to the delays in opening, the council have been receiving money for lost revenue, so this car park has already been earning for the tax-payers.
‘It’s a major infrastructure project in the middle of a recession at no cost to the tax-payer and with Debenhams on course as well it’s great news for Fareham.’
The car park’s spiral access ramps feature a special surface to deter skateboarders and the parking floors are getting anti-flooding layers added to prevent water from pooling.
Debenhams has already launched a recruitment drive for staff, and is expected to offer more than 100 new jobs.
In the initial plans it was to open a 20,00 sq ft store with three or four other new units for other retailers.
It is now taking all the space.