Town investment top of the agenda

Business breakfast meeting at the Ferneham Hall Fareham on February 23, 2017. Council leader Sean Woodward addresses the attendees about changes to Fareham town centre.  Pic by Kimberley Barber PPP-170223-174441001
Business breakfast meeting at the Ferneham Hall Fareham on February 23, 2017. Council leader Sean Woodward addresses the attendees about changes to Fareham town centre. Pic by Kimberley Barber PPP-170223-174441001
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BUSINESSES gathered at a breakfast event to give their views of a council’s plans to overhaul Fareham town centre.

About 50 people, representing a wide range of businesses, attended the event at Ferneham Hall on Thursday to learn about the plans and have their say.

Fareham Borough Council is hoping to carry out a multimillion pound scheme over the next 25 years that will rejuvenate the town centre, create a thriving arts hub and provide more housing.

Currently the proposals are being developed by working groups at the borough council, made up of councillors and officers.

A draft of the masterplan was shown at Thursday’s business breakfast meeting.

Council leader Sean Woodward said: ‘The town centre is the retail and cultural heart of the borough.

‘We want to make sure that we do what we can to ensure that it stays vibrant and attractive.’

He said the council would like to see between 700 and 900 homes built within the centre.

He said that parking surveys had already taken place, as had consultations with businesses and a parking consultation.

Cllr Woodward said: ‘The message we have got from the early consultation is that convenience of parking is critical and cost is important too. Most business owners thought that we could increase the amount of signposting in the town centre and there were some concerns about an increase in anti-social behaviour.’

A presentation was given by Cllr Keith Evans, executive member for planning and development, who spoke through the five key areas – the Civic Area, Market Quay, a transport hub near to the train station, West Street and Lysses.

Terry and Malee Spice, who run Thai Spice, an oriental supermarket in West Street, said they were pleased to see investment being planned.

Diane King, from Browns Coffee House, also in West Street, said: ‘It is quite exciting. Let’s hope that it happens. It is nice to have your voice heard.’

Tim Clark, from estate and letting agency Hughes Ellard, who undertakes retail work across the south coast, was also at the meeting.

He said: ‘It is excellent that Fareham is looking to the future and coming up with a strategy.

‘There are too many other town centres that have not done this and that is an issue across the country.

‘Attracting more housing into the town centre is the right thing to do as it will add to the vibrancy and bring people in.’