Test Valley Borough Council is cracking on with its regeneration plans for Andover town centre, despite receiving news that it would not receive a share of the government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF) to accelerate delivery of parts of the masterplan.
The authority submitted a bid for £20.3 million last summer to help accelerate the redevelopment of the town, extending the riverside park along Western Avenue, transforming the riverside footpath south of Bridge Street, creating a new The Lights theatre and cultural hub in the heart of town centre and demolishing the former magistrates’ court building in preparation for the wellbeing quarter.
But despite the blow, TVBC is already busy progressing with its original plan, which was in motion before it applied for the funding and will still enable the council to move forward with the next part of the scheme following the recent works to Town Mills. The authority expects to take the proposal to a council meeting in February.
The council also recently received confirmation that it will receive a £1M share of the government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), with more than £620K going towards extending the teaching facilities within the Andover College campus to help deliver T Level courses in construction skills, bricklaying and carpentry, as well as the expansion of the new Andover Health Hub in the Chantry Centre, which opened earlier this month.
Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Phil North, said: “We are obviously incredibly disappointed that we didn’t receive a share of the Levelling Up Fund – and although it was always going to be a long shot – did everything we possibly could to give ourselves the very best chance of securing the money. I’d like to say a big thank you to all those involved in the bid and the partners who supported it, including Andover Vision, Hampshire County Council and the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, and I’m pleased to say that they remain committed to supporting our plans.
“I cannot stress enough that while this funding would have helped to accelerate the masterplan, we are still determined to deliver the plans which received overwhelming support from the community, and transform the town centre as intended. While waiting to hear the outcome of the LUF bid, we have continued with our original plans, and we will be announcing further details over the coming weeks. The government has also indicated that there will be a third round of funding, which we will certainly pursue if that does come to fruition. This, alongside the recent news about the UKSPF, means that we have lots to be positive about, particularly as the funding for the college and Andover Health Hub enables us to take significant steps towards delivering our aspirations for the masterplan.
“These things do take time, because we have a once in a generation opportunity to get this right and do the town justice. But we are moving things forward as quickly as we can, and I want to reassure people that the diggers will be in the ground as soon as possible.
“In the meantime, our events calendar for this year is already jam-packed, with bigger and better events than ever before. So there is lots to look forward to.”