Nightlife boost 'essential' to Farnborough centreBy Nick Edmondson
November 22, 2012
A REJUVENATION of Farnborough’s nightlife is “essential” to the town centre’s improvement, according to council chiefs.
Rushmoor Borough Council’s vision for the improvement of the town over the next 10 years will initially focus on a new cinema and restaurants in a bid to bring town to life in the evening.
Members of the council’s environment policy and review panel discussed the progress of the Farnborough plan during a meeting on Tuesday.
Council CEO Andrew Lloyd said the new multi-screen Vue cinema, which is expected to be in place by 2014, is a crucial move in the right direction.
He said: “Right now we have a very porous town. If we could keep just a small percentage of the people in Farnborough then the town centre will be successful. The night time economy is essential.”
James Stockdale, development manager of Key Property investments, which owns the Meads, said the contract to build the cinema would be awarded in the next two weeks, with a view to completing the build in a 12 month timetable.
“Where you put a cinema, the restaurants come,” he told the committee. “That is a big tick in a box for us. People will come and watch and eat and socialise and we will create a modern shopping and living development. We are looking to start with just a couple of restaurants, but I would happily have three or four there. We want to completely change the atmosphere.”
The committee heard how the Meads will be rejuvenated with landscaping, frontages, lighting and street furniture to create a more welcoming shopping scene.
Mr Stockdale said the area had a lot to be proud of, with Queensmead having no vacant shops.
Cllr Les Taylor said: “It’s very important that we try and improve the atmosphere in the Queensmead in the evening. We need to improve some footfall in the area because it just needs to be brought to life.”
Mr Lloyd said improvements to Farnborough ‘will not happen overnight’, but claimed the next two years of regeneration would attract new investors looking to pour money into development opportunities in the town centre.
He said: “We have never tried to make Farnborough into a regional centre like Guildford. We would be setting ourselves up to fail. “We want to make the town the first choice for local residents and that will make it a success.”
Cllr Mark Staplehurst said: “This is all very exciting. As a man who has grown up with two children in Farnborough with nothing for them, it’s great to think that further generations will have all of this to look forward to.”
Councillors were given a glimpse of proposed street furniture that would be given a streamlined look to reflect the town’s aeronautical history.
Approved proposals to redesign Farnborough Business Park were also displayed, while it was hinted that PC World may leave the area upon reaching the end of its lease.
Brian Fyfe, chairman of The Farnborough Society (TFS) said he detected ‘the winds of change for Farnborough’, but raised concerns that the council had not considered all options to improve the town.
Speaking outside the meeting, he said: “TFS is of the view that we need to install more arts and culture into the evening economy, so it is not just restaurants and cinemas, and covers the whole spectrum. We believe there is an opportunity to do that.
“The community in Farnborough is wide and varied – people would want to come out and see what is put on (in terms of arts and culture). We can see examples of this because people are having to travel to Aldershot and Farnham. We believe there is a real demand.
“Farnborough is a magnet, and we could be turned on. Farnborough needs to be more than it is at the moment.”