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Council announces purchase of town centre buildings

By Connor Steel

FAREHAM BOROUGH COUNCIL have announced that it has made another strategic acquisition in the town centre as their housing department completed the purchase of 130 to 136 West Street recently; which includes the former site of Foresters Hall, a number of ground floor shops, and the Birks of Fareham furniture store that first opened back in 1912.

The move was shared in a press release on Monday and follows a great negotiation with ninety-year-old Mr Birks, who approached the council with a view to sell these properties. They are currently in a state of disrepair but councillors are hoping this purchase will allow them to offer affordable housing in this area; which is close to transport links and stores.

The redevelopment of these buildings could further include retail opportunities as well as supporting the council’s wider town centre regeneration plan; the nearby shopping centre being purchased in recent months. Next steps are set to be outlined in due course and are subject to planning consent, whilst public consultations may be held later on in the year.

Former owner, Mr Birks, said that he was “very sad to see the old place go” and it had survived through huge historical periods, including “two world wars, the Great Recession and pandemic”. He further stated that he was pleased that the new homes “would bear the Birks name” and hoped that it would last for “another 160 years” across the Fareham area.

Executive Member for Housing, Councillor David Foot, further stated his delight that Mr Birks had “trusted his legacy to the council” and announced they would “retain the ‘Birks name in their redevelopment plans, as a tribute to the family’s long history at the site.” All quotes and details can be seen via this link whilst updates will be posted on the council site.

PICTURED BY FAREHAM BOROUGH COUNCIL: Mr Birks (second right) stands with 3 councillors at purchased shop.