A LIFELONG Andover resident has described possible plans for a shopping centre food court as “nonsense”, claiming the town needs a better retail offering first.

Great-grandad of two, Derek Andrews, has dismissed the idea that the former Tesco Metro unit at the Chantry Centre could be converted into a two floor food and drink area.

The 65-year-old Waitrose employee discovered plans for the new food court online after they were posted out by the Chantry Centre’s letting agent, Smith Price.

As reported in last Friday’s Andover Advertiser, the plans, which are said to be subject to change, outline space for up to five restaurants as well as a coffee shop unit.

There will also be space for an external terrace seating area on both floors and one retail unit near to the main Chantry Centre entrance.

Mr Andrews disagrees with the plans and believes the unit should instead be used to host a department store in order to improve Andover’s retail offering.

He told the Andover Advertiser: “They are just trying to copy Basingstoke - It's nonsense.

“But there is no point in having a food court if you haven’t got a good selection of shops, which Andover doesn’t.

“Using a food court is a byproduct of good shops – if you can’t shop then it’s just a waste of space.

“Plus there are already loads of places to eat in Andover.”

Asked what he would prefer, Mr Andrews said: “What would be ideal is something like a BHS or a John Lewis.

“Some kind of department store with a selection of different clothes shops.

“I’ve lived here all my life and years ago we had six department stores but now we have very little.

“To revitalise Andover we need to get people in here to shop.”

A Smith Price spokesperson defended the plans, which they pointed out ‘are not set in stone’.

He said: “People will no doubt be aware that due to the growth of online retailing the number of traditional shops is falling and this trend is set to continue.

“The owners of the centre have to be able to respond to where the actual demand for space from occupiers is coming from rather than being able to impose what they would ideally like.

“In an ideal world Primark would take the former Tesco site and we have certainly tried to interest them and similar operators to do so but unfortunately the amount of interest from retailers to take the space is limited.

“The demand for restaurant space is currently far higher and the landlords cannot buck the national trend.”

After the article was posted up online last week, the plans received a mostly negative response from readers on Facebook, with around 75 percent of comments opposing the idea of a food complex.

However there was some support for the plans with several people saying that the new look would improve the town and others who were happy to see the space filled.

What do you think about the plans? Tell us what you think by e-mail: newsdesk@andoveradvertiser.co.uk