Under-threat Titchfield Festival Theatre unveils plans for a new carpark

Titchfield Festival Theatre in St Margaret's has accused Fareham Borough Council of blocking its expansion plansTitchfield Festival Theatre in St Margaret's has accused Fareham Borough Council of blocking its expansion plans
Titchfield Festival Theatre in St Margaret's has accused Fareham Borough Council of blocking its expansion plans
Under-threat Titchfield Festival Theatre has unveiled plans for a new carpark in the latest twist in a planning row over the site.

The three-theatre venue has applied for planning permission for a paddock opposite the venue in St Margaret’s Lane to be turned into a 97-space car park for use by its customers. It follows an appeal it has lodged over enforcement action taken by Fareham Borough Council after the newest 450-seater theatre was built without planning permission - something the theatre insists it does not need.

A lack of car parking was a concern previously raised by the council, however the venue hopes its application will allay those concerns.

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The site in Titchfield, west of Fareham, is currently a green field with wooden stables at its north eastern side used for keeping horses. It is bordered by the St Margaret’s Nurseries Garden Centre to the north, St Margaret’s Lane and the Titchfield Festival Theatre to the east, a house to the south and a green field to the west.

Supporters have thrown their weight is throwing its support behind the plan, with the idea being dubbed the “icing on the cake”. Among the comments, which have had names and addresses redacted by planners, one person said: “This is absolutely essential. This will greatly improve safety for drivers and pedestrians in the vicinity on days when the theatre is in use, not just performance days but all times, especially so as the footpaths in the immediate vicinity are limited. This is a hugely popular venue and this is a wonderful opportunity to provide the parking facilities it deserves.”

Another said: “A much safer option for those who are not within walking distance, parking at Kites Croft or Holiday Inn can mean a dangerous walk. “

A transport report used the now withdrawn Hampshire County Council parking standards for cinemas, theatres and music venues as a guide which said one car park space needs to be provided for every five fixed seats. If approved, the theatre will be able to provide a total of 132 spaces, enough for 660 seats. The report prepared by Paul Basham Associates concluded the impact of traffic on the area is negligible. The application said the site needs two-way traffic access permission via St Margaret’s Road and sustainable drainage to be built to take away surface water.

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As previously reported by The News, Fareham Borough Council says the new theatre was created in a space which has planning permission for use for storage purposes only and includes a newly excavated underground orchestra pit beneath the stage, changing rooms and rehearsal areas – meaning that the theatre was built without planning permission. It was also operating without all of the correct licencing although has now been granted. The appeal against the enforcement notice to take down the theatre is now with the independent government Planning Inspectorate for the final decision.

Planners have set April 30 as a target date for a decision on the latest application for the carpark. For more details visit Fareham Borough Council’s planning portal and search for reference P/24/0304/FP.