Independent shops, restaurants and green spaces top residents’ wish list for Andover town centre
‘Increase the number of independent shops and restaurants and make more of the River Anton and green spaces in Andover.’
This is one of the clear messages coming out of the recent town centre public survey completed by almost 3,000 residents, workers, students and visitors and run by HemingwayDesign and NEW masterplanning on behalf of Test Valley Borough Council.
The initial survey results mark the first step in the process of exploring what it’s like to live, work, visit and study in Andover in order to put together a masterplan for the town.
Many respondents felt that the town centre looked tired and dated and were keen to see more variety in terms of shops and restaurants, with 72 per cent of respondents hoping for more independent retailers.
The consultation also shone a light on the changing nature of the high street with 58 per cent of respondents reporting that they recently visited town to eat, drink and socialise and 31 per cent visiting for a cultural or sports activity. And the opportunity to make more of the town centre’s historic buildings, including its Georgian architecture and provide better access to the River Anton comes through loud and clear.
There was a mixed response to the question of more town centre housing - with around half saying they would like to see more opportunities to live in the town centre, which would increase footfall.
The full results are available at www.thinkandovertowncentre.co.uk.
Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Phil North, said: “I am really grateful to everyone who took the time to complete the survey. The results are incredibly encouraging and it’s great to see so many people saying that they support the total overhaul of the town centre – and I am very much behind them on that.
“Some of my initial discussions with HemingwayDesign, NEW masterplanning and local residents and businesses have focused on how we can open up the High Street and address the ‘block’ created by the Chantry Centre. We have also started to discuss the impact on the town centre layout caused by the ring road and how we can overcome this, as well as how we can better integrate our green spaces so they feel more connected to the town.”
“Town centres are fast becoming more of a place for leisure and living as well as retail – and we need to respond to those changes. I’m really pleased that lots of people said that they wanted us to make more of the River Anton, as the project to transform the area around Town Mills is already well underway, with work set to start in spring 2020.
“I have said all along that residents and businesses are key to helping shape the future of the town and so all of their feedback will be incorporated into the masterplan as it develops. There will be plenty of other opportunities for people to share their feedback, with some exciting events coming up over the next few months. I would encourage everyone to get involved as we’d really love to hear your hopes and aspirations for the town.
“The redevelopment of our town centres remains the council’s number one priority and at the heart of this is a genuine commitment to work with our communities to shape them together.”
Wayne Hemingway, HemingwayDesign, added: “Society is going through a major shift in spending habits and town centres have to adapt. We should look at this as a time of opportunity to respond positively to these changes and Andover, both in terms of its people and physical assets, has the ingredients to react positively.”
Lora White, NEW masterplanning, said: “We are thrilled with the response rate, which shows how committed and passionate people are about Andover. We’re busy now trying to incorporate this feedback into a spatial plan for Andover. The team are really excited to talk residents through these proposals and to get the community’s feedback in December.”
Appointed by the council earlier this year, HemingwayDesign and NEW masterplanning will draw together feedback from local residents and businesses, feasibility studies and other key statistics to inform a masterplan and long term-vision that will enable a vibrant and sustainable future for the town centre.
The public survey launched on August 20 and closed on October 1.