Test Valley Borough Council’s ambition to develop a Cultural Quarter on the site of the former Andover Magistrates Court has significantly increased after two of Andover’s major stakeholders have asked to be included in the market engagement exercise.
Initial interest from developers has been promising and both Andover College and Simplyhealth have been in discussions with the Council.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Phil North said: “ As a result of these additional expressions of interest, the combined sites in this location represent an even more exciting prospect for a major redevelopment.
“This means that we will now be issuing an updated market engagement notice to reflect this new and significant opportunity and to hear from developers what options might be possible. As previously stated, we will undertake a considerable public consultation exercise to help us decide and shape which ideas to pursue.
“What do I mean by a cultural quarter? A redevelopment of the whole site – which potentially could include a brand new theatre – upgrading The Lights; eateries with outdoor seating looking out over a landscaped plaza area; community provision and leisure facilities to complement those in the new Andover Leisure Centre.”
The Council has been in discussions with Andover College, as an adjacent landowner, about its plans and the college is keen to share in this opportunity and explore the feasibility of providing new college facilities on their site as part of the proposed redevelopment. Tim Jackson, principal of Andover College said: “ Our Town Centre location is important to us for students to access bus and train services and our continued success has led us to consider expanding and improving our facilities. This venture by the Council provides scope for us to become involved and play an even larger part in the future of the town.”
In addition, Simplyhealth have identified the opportunity to also include their Anton House site in the market engagement exercise. Richard Gillies, Chief Operating Officer at Simplyhealth said: “We’re really excited to be part of this early consultation. With 850 employees based in Andover we remain committed to the local area. As a growing, innovative organisation this gives us and other local partners a great opportunity to come together and think differently. We’re looking forward to being part of the process, seeing any options for redevelopment and the potential opportunities this could bring to the local community and our employees, as well as for our business and customers”.
One consequence of this increase in scope of the project is that the planned developer days have now been rearranged for one month later than originally anticipated to allow sufficient time for developers to respond to the revised notice. These will be published next week.