“Regeneration is going to be the key to recovery.”
Those were the words of Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) leader, Phil North, at the authority’s annual council meeting on May 6.
The meeting took place online for the first time in its history due to the coronavirus pandemic, with members logging in remotely.
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr North, said: “Whilst our current challenge is to support the community through this pandemic – our top priority remains the rejuvenation of our town centres. Regeneration is going to be the key to recovery and our work in Andover and Romsey has never been more important.
He said that the authority had made “good progress” in the past year, pressing ahead with plans to improve the area south of Romsey town centre. The council has now completed its final consultation on the proposals and will be bringing forward its masterplan later in the summer.
The project saw TVBC take part in an innovative citizen assembly pilot, which received national recognition as Test Valley was one of just three authorities in the country to be selected.
Cllr North went on to talk about the major redevelopment plans taking shape in the north of the borough. He said: “In Andover, we’ve attracted some of the best masterplanners in the country to come and give our town a bit of love, have consulted widely – including from a community shop in the town centre – and will adopt it later this summer. The masterplan lays out plans to redevelop the Chantry Centre, create a Wellbeing Quarter and bring the theatre into a more central location, which in turn will help improve the evening economy.
“And that background work is continuing despite the lockdown, so that when we’re out the other side, we can move into the delivery phase.” He also noted that with the lockdown leading us “to appreciate the natural world, perhaps more than we did before,” the council would be continuing its focus on maintaining its parks and open spaces, and pushing forward the climate change agenda by delivering against the action plan developed by the authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee.