Andover residents can look forward to spending their summer in the centre of town as the area surrounding Town Mills has been totally transformed into a picturesque Riverside Park.
Final touches to the landscape will take place over the coming weeks, but visitors will be able to take their first stroll through the new surroundings from next week, once contractors have left the site.
The project has been in motion since 2017 when the idea first arose to turn the area adjacent to Town Mills into a multifunctional park and showcase the town’s watercourse thanks to feedback captured by the Andover Vision initiative. The riverside location has historically been used by residents as a spot to admire the river and local wildlife, but restricted space made it difficult for pedestrians to pass through.
The Town Mills redevelopment is a joint project between Test Valley Borough Council, Hampshire County Council and Andover Vision and the scheme has received more than half a million pounds in funding from the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
The new riverside development will now offer a peaceful setting for those wishing to enjoy the space at their leisure and play, picnic and relax. People can make use of the wooden benches, which have been positioned in circular sections looking out across the river, while walkers and cyclists can soak up the view as they pass through the attractive route.
The last set of landscaping works will commence over the next few weeks, with TVBC set to install new railings, offering much clearer views from inside and outside the park and establishing a more formal and traditional park edging. The grass areas will also remain fenced off for a short while, as the freshly laid lawn settles into place.
Over the coming months the recently planted shrubs will start to flourish, displaying a luscious green environment. Test Valley Borough Council is also in early stages of proposing to install two new pieces of artwork inside the park to further enhance its aesthetic. A public engagement exercise will take place this summer to help outline plans for the public art.
Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Phil North, said “The delivery of the Riverside Park is a significant first step in our future plans for Andover and I am thrilled to see it open, though some of the landscaping will continue over the coming weeks and the public art project will provide a finishing touch in the summer. This is a wonderful example of what we will bring to the town as we continue to push forward with our wider rejuvenation plans.
“Everyone involved has worked incredibly hard to bring this concept to life and make this a truly special asset for Andover. Residents, workers and visitors will all be able to make the most of the Riverside Park and enjoy it for years to come.”
Kevin Travers, Head of Infrastructure, Transport and Place at Enterprise M3 LEP commented “Making towns greener, improving air quality and facilitating enhanced active travel links are key priorities for the LEP. This investment is another step forward in bringing to life the strategic priorities set out in our Revive and Renew Economic Action Plan which encourages people to stay local and presents a revisioning of town centres to make them happier places to live and work in.”
The Town Mills development marks the first step towards the delivery of the wider town centre transformation, following the publication of the Andover masterplan last year. Test Valley Borough Council worked closely with nationally renowned urban design experts, Hemingway Design and NEW masterplanning, and used feedback from several public consultations to develop the masterplan, which sets out a vision for the future of Andover.
The masterplan proposes a total transformation of the town centre by introducing new retailers and eateries into the High Street, creating new residential offerings and building a brand new theatre. The document also proposes the creation of a stunning riverside walk to showcase Andover’s watercourse and construction of a new wellbeing quarter near to the leisure centre and Andover College.
More details about the Andover masterplan can be found at: www.thinkandovertowncentre.co.uk.