The Rendezvous building off Andover’s Union Street is set to be rented out to a charity which helps members of the public with therapy and rehabilitation.
The building, owned by Test Valley Borough Council, has been available for the public to book for some years as community space for hire. However, the number of bookings has been very low over the last three years and fell further before the current Covid-19 pandemic. In spite of very low hire charges, the building has stood empty and unused for most of the time, costing the council thousands of pounds each year.
As well as the number of bookings falling, more community space has now opened up across Andover since The Rendezvous was opened to the public, such as Augusta Park’s community centre and similar at Picket Twenty. The majority of groups which had first used The Rendezvous after it was opened as community space, have instead now been using the Upper Guildhall.
The building is set to be rented to Valley Leisure Ltd, subject to planning permission being granted for a change of use for the building, for their rehabilitation and therapy work as an I Can centre, which is currently located within the Salto centre in Charlton.
Finance portfolio holder, councillor Maureen Flood, said: “This is a decision that we have been considering for a long while, certainly before the pandemic.”
“In the last full financial year before lockdown the Rendezvous was used by community organisations at a concessionary rate just 15 times. The vast majority of these bookings were for the Freedom Programme run by the Andover Crisis and Support Centre, who have now migrated to the Upper Guildhall. If you add in all the private bookings, it was still being hired out less than once a week.”
“Instead of letting the building sit empty for a vast majority of the time, it’s wonderful that Valley Leisure can make use of the premises for such a fantastic purpose, and with the George Yard car park being so close, it’s an ideal location for them. I hope that it will also boost footfall in the town centre.”
“With other community space around the town and the Upper Guildhall, we know that with the current usage of The Rendezvous, we can comfortably accommodate those who need that space, elsewhere.”
Chief Executive of Valley Leisure Ltd, Chris Attrill said: “The move to Union Street is ideal for this bespoke service. The team are looking forward to the move as it provides the perfect environment in which to create the warm, welcoming and friendly setting in which they can best encourage and enable customers to gain physical, mental and social benefit from the service in addition to combatting the impact of loneliness and isolation.
“We know that the I Can service in the town centre will also bring additional footfall and the fantastic parking facilities and ease of access that the locations brings, will help encourage more customers to engage with the service.”