The £1.75 million vision to revamp a Fareham community centre in a bid to improve the area has been praised by councillors.

Fareham North-West Community Centre at Henry Cort Drive is being renamed Fareham Park, with a public vote seeing 2,486 of 2,594 respondents voting in favour of the name.

The three names to choose from were, firstly Henry Cort Open Space, in recognition of the geographic area adjacent to the school.

The other two options were Fareham Park - to reflect the new ward name of the area which comes into effect for next year’s local elections - and Hillson Park to reflect the location.

A meeting of the borough’s Leisure and Community Scrutiny Panel heard that Fareham North-West is the smallest community centre owned by the council and is not as well used as other centres, said the council officer.

Its facilities are to be updated, with panel members impressed by the plans on the table. The list of changes includes moving the play park to a new location on the other side of Henry Court Drive, and a new petanque court which is a very popular club. 

A council officer said rearranging those areas would free up land at the other side of Henry Cort for house building, help serve the community and improve the area in a number of ways.

To help write a master plan, contractor Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands ran three community workshops to identify what is required from the space from local community organisations.

Fifteen organisations attended the third workshop.

The first workshop identified what the local community needed. The second workshop looked at merging the requirements of the use of the different spaces and how other community centres operate. The third workshop, held on February 2, looked at how the outside space could be used.

In a survey asking about priorities for the activities at the centre, 125 people voted and asked for supporting youth, socialising, and community support with food pantry and citizens’ advice.

Panel chair Councillor Connie Hockley said: “So impressed. The way they were run was absolutely excellent and they really got information out of the people. Some of the best consultation I’ve been involved in.”

Cllr Hockley said she only had £80,000 to build the initial centre, with a promise for an extension that never materialised.

The £1.75 million grant for the Fareham Park Vision is a combination of £800,000 from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund allocation and money from the council.

Councillor Pamela Bryant said: ”This is excellent news. It was never big enough from the day it was built.”

The next stage is a strategic meeting then a special Community Action Team (CAT) meeting is planned on March 25 at Columbus School to present new concept designs to help form a master plan for the new facility.