The Andover Summit working group tasked with reviewing planning controls and current policies covering the town centre has identified a number of key areas to progress. These include a review of the boundary outlining the retail zones of the town centre; the potential to introduce finger posts directing shoppers to retail outlets off the main High Street; possible communal advertising signs in key locations in the High Street, and the introduction of designated officers in the Planning and Building Service to give guidance and support to retailers and businesses applying for signage and advertising in the Town Centre.
Over 20 applications for change of use of units in the High Street and secondary shopping area have been received by the Council in recent years, with only one of these rejected because of insufficient evidence. A recent notable example of this is the successful change of use from an empty retail unit into the Wimpy Restaurant in the Upper High Street.
In considering whether to increase the flexibility of the current policy in relation to uses in the town centre, the Council is also seeking to review the current boundaries of the Town Centre and the zones for primary and secondary retail, which will be carried out as part of the current Local Plan consultation.
Councillor Ian Carr, Leader of the Council said, “Investigations are being carried out to assess the potential for a change of zoning to encourage greater flexibility of use for leisure, food and evening retail opportunities within the town. The Council is also in discussions with the Managers of the Chantry Centre to determine if longer or more flexible opening hours would benefit the town.”
“The proposals put forward by the Reviewing Planning Controls working group are all aimed at making the town centre more accessible, with a greater mix of retail and leisure use, and a clearer vision of advertising methods to enhance the street view and direct shoppers more effectively.”
“I am delighted that the first outcomes of the Andover Summit working groups are clearly identifying practical steps that can be taken to stimulate and encourage the vibrancy of Andover Town Centre. The ideas and research being carried out, with input from local businesses and retailers, represents a real opportunity for all sectors to work together as a team, enhancing Andover for the benefit of all.”
The Reviewing Planning Controls Working Group consists of local business leaders, Councillors and Council Officers, and was one of five groups formed earlier this year following the Andover Summit. The Summit meeting identified priority actions to reinvigorate the town.
The remit of the group was to examine the current policies covering the town centre to see if it is possible for it to become a more multi-functional area enabling public services, leisure and housing to sit alongside shops.
For further information, please contact Keith Kerslake, Communications Manager at Test Valley Borough Council on 01264 368108.