Fareham Live: Ferneham Hall upgrade work will re-start - but project will cost extra £1m

Plans to revamp Ferneham Hall in Fareham will continue but the project will cost £1m more than previously agreed.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 1:06 pm

In November last year Fareham Borough Council agreed to pause the project due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over the last 10 months, the cost of materials and building resources have grown which has raised the initial budget of £12.35m by £1m with £675,000 already borrowed for the project.

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An artist's impression of what Fareham Live, which will replace Ferneham Hall, will look like Picture from Fareham Borough Council

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Cllr Susan Walker said: ‘The revised construction budget is £13.35m, this will be funded through the council’s new development community infrastructure levy receipts, which still currently stands at £5.8m and therefore would require the council to commit a further £6.875m and this would need to be funded through borrowing.

‘The member working group, when considering the way forward, did look at changes to the design to reduce construction costs but felt that this would have an impact on the quality of the offering as well as the operation of the venue.’

The council's executive leader Seán Woodward added: ‘We would’ve been criticised had we gone gung-ho and done the project back when the Covid pandemic outbreak happened, I'm sure we would’ve been criticised heavily for doing that.

‘We could’ve been constructing a venue with the main auditorium for 800 people of which we could perhaps only have used 200 of the seats or fewer.

‘It was unknown, so I think it was absolutely the right thing to press the pause button on the project.

‘The other option is to proceed with a pared-down version of Fareham Live to try to bring it in on exactly the budget that we set a couple of years ago.

‘Or to build the fantastic facility that I know we have dreamed of over a number of years and press ahead.

‘Had we gone ahead with something that couldn't be used or only be a quarter used, that would have effectively been a much larger cost or at least in terms of the opportunities that it created.’

With the project approved, construction will start next spring or summer with the launch expected to be at the end of 2023.