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Ambitious plans emerge to enhance town centre

More than 90 people packed into St Mary’s church last Wednesday to view the “hugely ambitious” plans for Andover town centre.

Representatives from HemingwayDesign and NEW masterplanning presented some of the emerging redevelopment proposals, which include redeveloping the Chantry Centre to open up the High Street and enhance the views of St Mary’s and restore historic connections, relocating The Lights theatre, creating more spaces for events, revitalising Andover’s historic core by providing better links between the Guildhall, church, the Iron Age museum and Town Mills and removing sections of the ring road to help facilitate better access to the River Anton and Vigo Park.

The plans would also see the creation of a ‘wellbeing quarter’ for play, exercise and relaxation, incorporating upgraded facilities for Andover College and providing a potential location for new ‘green’ offices for Simplyhealth near the leisure centre. This has evolved from what was previously referred to as the ‘cultural quarter’ due to the suggestion to relocate The Lights.

And as well as creating more public open space, undertaking major improvements to town centre landscaping and breathing new life into the lanes off the High Street, the designers have also recommended making more of a feature of the river. Removing part of the gyratory will allow for better access to the river and more green space which could be fronted by high quality cafes and restaurants with people living at upper floors.

The proposals are available to view at www.thinkandovertowncentre.co.uk and residents, businesses and other interested parties are all being encouraged to fill out the accompanying survey before it closes on January 10 to share their views.

Lora White from NEW masterplanning, said: “There was a great energy in St Mary’s on Wednesday evening. People really responded strongly to the proposals noting they were both ambitious but also logical. The team are excited to take on the feedback we received and to start improving the plans to make them even stronger for the next time we present them.”

Wayne Hemingway, HemingwayDesign, added: “There can be no doubt that Andover, like all towns has to respond to the public led changes that town centres are going through. Our shopping and leisure habits are changing at a pace not witnessed in generations. The great things is that Andover’s population is up for change and is contributing ideas and thoughts and robust critique of this team’s ideas and this input is much appreciated and is helping to further shape our ideas. Please do check out the plans at www.thinkandovertowncentre.co.uk and let us know your thoughts.”

Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Phil North, said: “It was a really great moment in the life of the project to see so many passionate people come together in such a stunning setting to talk about the future of the town. Everyone seemed incredibly excited and positive and it was fantastic to see these hugely ambitious but also perfectly logical plans that could totally transform the town as we know it. 

“We had previously identified the importance of enhancing the area around the leisure centre, and with the proposal to relocate The Lights it makes absolute sense to create a new wellbeing focus.

“I would appeal to everyone to please share the plans and survey far and wide to ensure that as many people as possible are able to input their views. This is our once in a generation opportunity to truly shape the town together.”

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