A NEW arts centre already £3m over budget will still be cheaper than its predecessor, councillors have said.
Both the leader of Fareham Borough Council and the opposition say Fareham Live will cost less than Ferneham Hall.
It comes as the council's executive committee is set to sign off on an operator for the new arts and cultural facility next week.
BH Live withdrew from the project in October 2021 and the council has been searching for a new operator set to be revealed this month.
It was reported in May last year that the cost of constructing the theatre went over budget by £3m – amounting to £16.9m.
Councillor Katrina Trott, leader of the opposition group, said the new theatre ‘is costing a lot of money’ but she thinks ‘it is a way forward’ for the regeneration of the town centre.
She said: "When the old Fareham community centre was demolished, much against our will. It was always promised that we would have another community centre for Fareham town.
"So there is going to be a community facility within Fareham Live which I see as a good point – this is going to be much better equipped than Ferneham Hall.
"The monetary aspect has been very closely looked at and it will be costing us less than the old Ferneham Hall did."
Cllr Sean Woodward, leader of the council: added ‘When our administration came into being, which was 1999, Ferneham Hall was costing council taxpayers £750,000 per year.
"Now apply 24 years of inflation to that and it was costing in today’s money millions of pounds to run. We absolutely determined that it will be down to the low hundreds of thousands.
"The money will be paid for by developers, every penny of it will come out of Community Infrastructure Levy for the next eight years.
"Find me another town where they’re delivering a £17m arts and culture facility for their people and you won’t find one.’
"It’s a fantastic facility, an 800-seat auditorium, studios, community space, a bar and cafe, lots of car parking which is going to have superior acts to what Ferneham Hall did."