Project ‘Fareham Live’ to restart works

FAREHAM BOROUGH COUNCIL’S Executive Committee has agreed to restart work on the town’s new arts and entertainment venue, after being on pause for 10 months since last November due to the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns.

The multi-million-pound project will see Ferneham Hall replaced by a new arts and entertainment facility to be called Fareham Live. The site at the back of Fareham’s shopping centre closed its doors in January 2020 ready for the transformation works. But the project was put on hold later that year due to restrictions.

It brought an end to a 38-year operation at Ferneham Hall as it opened in 1972, showing thousands of shows over the years including national, international and local entertainment for all ages. Fareham Live is due to finish in 2023 at the earliest and will feature a bigger main theatre with more comfortable seating, flexible studio and performance space and new bar / cafe areas. When open there will also be spaces for community groups and organisations to hire.

The council has agreed to increase the budget allocated for the work, from £12.57 million to £13.35 million. This is to allow for an increase in the cost of construction costs and higher entertainment industry charges as it recovers from the impact of Covid-19.

Operators BH Live have been appointed to run the venue on the council’s behalf.

The Executive Member for Leisure and Community at Fareham Borough Council, Councillor Mrs Sue Walker, said: “Fareham Borough Council has very ambitious plans for the redevelopment of the civic quarter and for the regeneration of the town centre.  Over many years, Fareham has transformed from a market town to a shopping venue, and now we need to plan for the next phase in the offering within Fareham Town Centre.

“Fareham Live, a new community arts and entertainment venue, is the first phase of this regeneration and, as a cultural venue, could kickstart wider investment into our town centre.”

It is expected that construction works will start in spring/summer 2022 following the delays with the anticipated launch of Fareham Live by the end of 2023.