THE first summit to discuss radical changes in Andover to rejuvenate the town centre has taken place.
And a six-point plan has now been agreed to inject new life into the town.
The summit – held last Thursday – brought together local retailers, business leaders and councillors who pooled ideas and agreed priorities.
These include reviewing parking, looking again at planning controls – which could enable public services, leisure and housing to sit alongside retail premises – to consider how the town centre could be managed, while identifying a common theme.
Those who attended the meeting also wanted to see environmental improvements, improvements to the Upper High Street, better signage to the town and its attractions from the A303 and more High Street events taking place.
Tony Hooke, of the Broadway Garage, has campaigned to see the town centre revitalised.
He said: “What the town needs to do is get back on level terms with motorists, parking in this town is too expensive.
“A lot of visitors to Andover live in the sticks so parking is a real problem for them, but if we can sort this then everything else will fall into place.”
Councillor Ian Carr, leader of Test Valley Borough Council, said about the meeting: “A six-point plan was agreed focusing on the areas identified by the summit as the most important.
“Given the priority to increase events I am pleased to announce the removal of all charges for the performance spaces in the town to encourage more events in the High Street.
“I also propose to increase the council’s business incentive grants to encourage new business.
He added: “There was also a recognition that we all need to be more active in promoting the many attributes of the town with local traders reporting a growth in business.
“As we develop Andover’s future we need to build on what has already been achieved to improve the town in recent years, including a new cinema and theatre, supporting the farmers’ market and retaining free parking after 4pm.
“Plans include a new bus station, developing the Andover Charter Market and encouraging the short term rental of retail space.
“The new homes being built in Andover provide a golden opportunity to increase shoppers and visitors and all involved recognise that this chance should not be missed.”