A NEW cultural quarter could be created in Andover town centre under new proposals.

Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) is looking to explore wider opportunities with redevelopment of the Andover Magistrates Court site, to make the area into a cultural quarter.

The magistrates court closed in 2010 - bringing to an end seven centuries of justice in Andover - as the government decided that 93 courts were to close in England and Wales to modernise the judicial system.

The site and its car park was acquired by Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) in July 2015 and now, the council will next week be launching a market engagement exercise to hear from developers what options might be possible to revamp the area.

Leader of the council, Councillor Phil North said: “Andover is a growing town and we have aspirations for a cultural quarter in this area, potentially to include redevelopment of both the magistrates court and The Lights current buildings. It would also complement the new leisure centre.

“This area has fantastic potential not only for the people of Andover, but for visitors and businesses as well and fits with our aim of increasing footfall into the town centre.

“Asking for feedback from developers to help us understand the possibilities in the current market is just the first phase. We would then want to undertake public consultation to help us shape what ideas to pursue.”

Until recently, the council had been working on plans to redevelop the magistrates court building to provide a public sector hub.

This would have included the largest share of the building being occupied by the health sector which had obtained funding to relocate a number of Andover’s existing GP practices.

However, following their withdrawal from the project, the council now will be taking part in a wider scoping exercise.

The authority has made it clear any redevelopment should allow for the ongoing provision of the facilities currently provided by The Lights.

The purchase of the site also enabled the council to provide additional pay and display car parking on the site in close proximity to the leisure centre and The Lights.

Although this car park is temporarily closed while the leisure centre is rebuilt, it will reopen once the new centre opens its doors.

To read more from Phil North on the regeneration of the former magistrates court and surrounding area, click here.