Players told to keep quiet or you can’t stay at site

Back from left Kay Fraser, Ben O'Shaughnessy, in front Steve Harris and Georgie Gulliford during rehearsals
Back from left Kay Fraser, Ben O'Shaughnessy, in front Steve Harris and Georgie Gulliford during rehearsals
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A THEATRE group has been told it must be a good neighbour for the next year if it wants permission to stay at its new home.

Titchfield Festival Theatre has been based at the former warehouse in St Margarets Lane in Titchfield for 18 months and has asked Fareham Borough Council for planning permission to carry on using the site to stage its shows.

It asked for retrospective planning permission to use half of the unit as a theatre with 210 seats and the other half as storage.

But a letter and a separate petition signed by five nearby residents was sent to the council objecting to the plans.

They claimed that the theatre had a detrimental impact on roads and parking. And they complained about noise from people coming and going from the site.

At a meeting of the council’s planning committee, Cllr Connie Hockley said: ‘I’m not happy with the original proposal. TFT do provide a service and put on some wonderful plays but it’s in the wrong place.

‘I’m going to suggest a compromise – they have permission for a year.

‘During that year they need to ensure that the parking plan works and that we don’t have any complaints from neighbours about noise or parking in the lanes.’

The group, which prides itself on its local link to Shakespeare, originally put on shows at Titchfield Abbey – home of the 3rd Earl of Southampton, one of the Elizabethan writer’s patrons.

But it had to stop performing there in 2006 when English Heritage told the group it would have to pay thousands to use the site.

It has used several venues since then.

But Kevin Fraser, the group’s chairman, said they would be appealing the decision.

He said: ‘We’re not very happy with the decision at all. There’s no reason why we can’t be there.

‘The council’s report was very favourable to us. The head of planning said they’ve been monitoring the theatre for 18 months and they’ve not seen any problems.’

The troupe is limited to 140 days of performance at the site per year, but is allowed to use it on other days for rehearsals.

And it has to get written permission from Holiday Inn and Kites Croft Business Park for their car parks to be used as overflow parking.

Permission was granted for a year by six votes to three.