Major revamp plans could see Ferneham Hall closed for two years

Ferneham Hall, in Fareham
Ferneham Hall, in Fareham
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FERNEHAM Hall could be closed for up to two years if plans to refurbish it get the go-ahead.

Fareham Borough Council’s executive board will consider a multi-million pound proposal to transform the site at its meeting next month.

If approved, the scheme would see the theatre’s main auditorium cut from 700 seats to 408 after evidence shows half the seats are empty for most performances.

It could be shut for up to two years towards the end of 2019 while work is carried out. It will remain open as normal in the meantime.

It is hoped the refurbishment will improve Ferneham Hall’s finances as currently loses £400,000 a year.

Councillor Sue Bell, executive member for leisure, said: ‘Our vision is to provide a busy community and entertainment venue which includes daytime and evening activity, seven days a week.

‘Our new look facilities would enable us to offer a great choice of entertainment to residents and provide new, community facilities for those living in and around the town centre.’

The proposals would see Ferneham Hall have two auditoriums, one which would have a screen and projector, community rooms and a dance studio.

The final cost of the project is yet to be determined but the council anticipates funding would be met primarily through Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) contributions. The levy is a planning charge on new developments and can be spent by the council to make improvements in the area.

Management of the new venue would be provided by partnering with a not-for-profit leisure trust operator.

It is hoped they would have the skills, experience, flexibility and freedom to seek external funding for the scheme. It would not be liable for business rates either.

As a partner, the operator would be expected to provide support during construction of the new venue and then management once it is completed.

They would also be expected to help improve Ferneham Hall’s finances to get rid of the need for subsidies from Fareham Borough Council.

Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of the local authority, said: ‘If this proposal is approved, I think it will be an exciting prospect for the borough.

‘I cannot think of a better use for CIL money than investing in something that can be enjoyed by all our residents and a remodelled Ferneham Hall fits that bill perfectly.’

The executive board meeting is on Monday, July 9 at 6pm at the civic offices.

Further information about the proposal visit moderngov.fareham.gov.uk.