Good progress is being made towards the opening of Fareham’s new arts and entertainment venue and tickets could be on sale soon, according to the council.

Fareham Borough Council’s leisure and communities scrutiny panel was updated on the revamp of Ferneham Hall into Fareham Live, with operator Trafalgar Theatres now drawing up a programme of events.

Pictures inside and out showed progress to the building and the fitting of its large mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

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Daily Echo: Fareham Council Officer Lesley Usher Showing Slides Of Construction Progress Of Fareham Live C) Noni Needs LdrsLeigh Usher, a council officer, said she visited the Fareham Live site on February 2 and said: ”There are lots of trades on site at all times. The screeding (floor) of the main auditorium was happening as we were there.

“It is taking shape. There is progress every time from week to week. It is really coming along, It’s fantastic.”

During the meeting earlier this month, the committee heard how the fly-tower roof was completed in December and the steel frames have been painted to make them fire retardant and the air handling units and the air source heat pumps have been installed.

A new electrical switchboard and many of the windows and doors have also been installed with the internal walls going in helping the building take shape.

Panel chair Councillor Connie Hockley (Con, Titchfield) said: “Isn’t it amazing? To all the teams that have been involved, they have done a super job.”

The next stage of building works includes fitting the remaining doors and windows, adding the roller door to the rear of the stage and continuing with the mechanical and electrical installation. Gold cladding will be added to the mansard roof which will make it watertight.

As part of the £16.69 million project, which was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a victim of rising costs, there will also be brickwork to the western elevation. Inside, the theatre seats will be installed along with other equipment.

Councillor Louise Clubley (Con, Fareham North) asked about the external appearance of ‘patchy bricks’ and was reassured by officers that the bricks had got wet when sat in the car park but would dry out.

Venue operator Trafalgar Theatres, appointed in June, has brought on board Gavin Shuman as venue director. He will be full-time from February 1 and other jobs were being advertised.

Interviews for the second job advertised, the technical and maintenance manager, will be held next week and then the roles of operations manager and creative learning manager will be filled.

Work on the programme of events at Fareham Live has already started, the panel heard from council officers and was encouraged by the ‘seriousness’ and ‘commitment’ that Trafalgar was showing.

The officer said: “It will be a balanced programme to be accessed by as many individuals and groups as possible.” 

This includes a variety of entertainment from week-long shows, one-night shows, corporate events, and community events. 

Council officer Leigh Usher said that there will be a series of soft launch events to make sure everything works.

She said: “Trafalgar hope to have a website and ticket sales running by  the end of the month but subject to bits and pieces going on, that’s the aspiration.”