The Member of Parliament for North West Hampshire has given his view on the future of Andover’ high street.
MP Kit Malthouse spoke to Dmitrijs Meiksans on Saturday (20th June 2020) about his experiences in lockdown, progress with recruiting new police officers and how he felt Andover was preparing for the future.
The local MP says the future is getting more people to live in the town centre area and making greater use of the old coaching yards. He also said that the closure of Marks and Spencer was a key moment in deciding to make big changes to the high street area.
On a live YouTube Q&A session, Mr Malthouse told viewers, “Phil [North] and I have been speaking for some time about Andover. In particular the town centre, its economy generally and what we can do to stimulate it.
“We held a kind of small business summit right back in the early days to talk about where we might go and when Phil became leader he rejuvenated the ‘Andover Vision’.
“Looking at the future of our town… One of the big issues for us both was the future of the Chantry Centre and how it’s ‘swamped’ in the middle of the town and was getting emptier and emptier.
The Chantry Centre was fully acquired by Test Valley Borough Council in May 2019, the local authority now has plans to demolish much of the building and rebuild it across a different footprint to ‘open up’ the town centre area.
Mr Malthouse speaking from his Highclere home said, “It was galvanised in our minds when we worked together on the Marks and Spencer closure a couple years ago, which was was a real turning point for the town.
“Emerging from that have come these brilliant plans for large-scale redevelopment. And rather cleverly, various interested people in the town centre from Simplyhealth to the College and the Chantry Centre have all come together to work up this ‘Masterplan’, which I went to see when they were exhibiting it on Bridge Street.
Talking of the ‘Masterplan’, Mr Malthouse said, “I thought it looked fantastic, I thought it was a really good plan for the town centre to do three things.
“One, to create much more of a ‘streetscape’ and a more interesting ‘destination’.
“Two, to put in more independent retailers and create something that’s quite special there, rather than just the same old chains and that everyone else has got.
“Three – critically – to bring more residents into the town centre. Because the more people that live in the town centre, the more people will use the shops.”
The Andover Masterplan was constructed using almost 3,000 responses from residents and businesses while the local authority worked in partnership with HemingwayDesign and NEW Masterplanning to create a new ‘connected, green, healthy, enterprising and thriving civic centre’.
Mr Malthouse concluded the 15-minute discussion with, “One of the things I love about Andover is the ‘lanes’, from Union Street, to the Globe to Waterloo Court and all those kind of places.
“If we can create a new town centre with those nooks and crannies… like Marlborough – their High Street is really thriving and it’s exactly that, with lots of small independent shops and little nooks, crannies and alleyways that are interesting to human beings to peer down and go to explore. If we can create a sort of modern version of that I think that would be great.
“I’m still working quite closely on that and we’ve been talking to the government about what assistance they can give from a grant point of view.
“But critically, it’s going to be a 10 year project to really put Andover on the map.”