A long-term lease has been granted to the Whitehill & Bordon Town Partnership so it can develop the Alton Assembly Rooms as a performing arts hub.

The town partnership will upgrade the building to bring new events to Alton and improve facilities for current users such as dance groups, the Alton Operatic and Dramatic Society, Wey Valley Radio and the Alton Arts Society.

These plans are the result of an agreement between the town partnership and Alton Town Council which the council approved at its meeting on March 23. The town partnership already provides a base for Pumpkin Pantos at the Forest Community Centre in Bordon.

Following a successful run by Pumpkin Pantos at the Assembly Rooms last Christmas, the town partnership approached the town council with an ambition to expand its arts programme into Alton, working with East Hampshire District Council and using developer contributions to invest in the building for theatrical productions, dance events and exhibitions.

Town partnership chairman Curtis Bone said: “The Alton Assembly Rooms is such a lovely building with huge potential to support the arts and become a real local theatre. With the expertise of our in-house team and long-term plans, we have ambitions to make the venue a real success story and something Alton can be proud of.

“We look forward to working closely with Alton Town Council and Alton Community Association to make the Assembly Rooms a dedicated creative space in Alton, building on and expanding the established programme and great local talent.”

From October 2 the town partnership’s new arts promotion and engagement officer will focus on new acts, supporting local groups and artists, in-house productions and liaising with schools, organisations and the community.

The new arrangement starts in January, when the Alton Community Association will step back from its involvement with the Assembly Rooms and focus on its plans to improve Alton Community Centre, subject to community infrastructure levy funding.

A top ABBA tribute band will launch the revamped Assembly Rooms on February 10. Tickets will be on sale soon.