AMBITIOUS plans for a multifloor food court in the town centre are being floated to national restaurant chains, The Andover Advertiser can exclusively reveal.

The plans relate to the conversion of the old Tesco Metro store in the Chantry Centre, which has remained vacant since the supermarket giants pulled out in 2014.

If given the go-ahead, the ex-retail unit will be completely re-designed into a new swanky food court, which could create over 100 jobs for the town.

As part of the design the ground floor of the unit will be divided up into three restaurants, a coffee shop and a retail store.

Meanwhile the rear part of the building, which was formally the supermarket’s delivery bay, will be converted into an outdoor seating area.

Upstairs the plans outline space for two more restaurants, which have also been highlighted as possible retail or leisure facilities.

There are also plans to leave part of the upstairs as another external terrace seating area.

It is understood that most of the exterior structure, which is currently solid brick wall, will be knocked through in place of windows in order to give a more modern and open feel.

Centre manager at the Chantry Centre, Steve Cotney, said: “The closure of Tesco at the front of The Chantry Centre has provided us with the opportunity to further improve both the look of the scheme and the balance of retailing and catering.

“Amongst the options being investigated for the Tesco unit are plans for a radical reshaping of the space to create a much more contemporary look for the centre and turn the drab exterior side and back of the scheme into a vibrant leisure area capitalising on the centre’s proximity to the open green space by Waterloo Court.

“The plans create space for a new shop unit, three restaurants, a cafe and an external terrace seating area and will help strengthen Andover’ s nighttime economy, making it a focus for dining as well and shopping.”

Mr Cotney added: “We are now investing in a long overdue improvement to the frontage and branding the of the scheme.

“This includes enhancing and modernising every entrance to the scheme.

“In the last year the centre has introduced Poundworld to Andover by creating a unit from four stores and building additional space.

“Pandora has now opened and letting agents are in discussion with a further three stores which means that with the exception of the old Tesco unit all the shop units will be occupied.”

“Of course The Chantry Centre is still committed to developing retailing within the town and the amount of retail frontage is only slightly reduced in this suggested development.

“There is still further potential to attract new retailers to the scheme but the space created by Tesco and the current demand for restaurant units could mak e this development a natural fit for both the centre and Andover.”

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