Test Valley Borough Council is set to embark on the next chapter in its support for Andover town centre by commissioning consultants, The Means, to undertake a study about whether a Business Improvement District would be feasible for Andover.
A Business Improvement District (BID) is a business-led partnership responsible for managing and promoting the town centre. It is established through a ballot of the businesses that would be required to pay a levy. The levy would fund projects and services designed to benefit the town centre and its businesses. Most of Andover’s neighbouring centres have BIDs.
The move to explore a BID for the town follows the council’s Andover Summit initiative, which began in November 2012. The Andover Summit marked the beginning of a comprehensive programme of work designed to promote the town centre, and it has been responsible for the delivery of a variety of projects, including free dash and go parking, pop-up shops, the launch of the Independent Retailer Grant and a three-year town centre manager contract.
The consultants will undertake the feasibility study, leaving the town centre manager to concentrate on his operational role of supporting businesses, organising events and working to raise the town centre’s profile and footfall.
The council will carefully consider the findings of the study, which are expected in around four months’ time, and will work with businesses to ensure the best outcome for the town centre.
Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Ian Carr, said: “The council is committed to supporting Andover town centre to reach its full potential. It can never be a cathedral city or as large as some of its neighbours, but with a growing catchment population we can all work together to strengthen its current offering.
“Undertaking the feasibility study does not mean the council has already made up its mind. We simply need to begin to explore all the options now, while the town centre management contract is in place, in order to try to ensure the best outcome for Andover.”
The Means is a national expert retail consultancy which undertakes various research for councils and Business Improvement Districts. They worked alongside retailers in Basingstoke when they decide to have a BID in the town and are currently working on a similar project in Southampton.