A TOWN centre project is taking shape with new ambitions for a green leisure spot as part of efforts to rejuvenate Andover.

Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) and Hampshire County Council (HCC) are working together to bring a new lease of life to the Town Mills area, with hopes to see it as a riverside public space where people can stay and enjoy, and provide the “perfect lunch opportunity.”

Public consultation and feedback received last summer has brought the partners to consider wider improvements than originally considered.

Investigations are currently underway to find out how traffic could bypass that part of the town, in order to open up the River Anton at Town Mills.

Leader of the borough council Phil North said: “The River Anton is a fantastic natural asset at the very heart of Andover town centre running through the historic area of Town Mills.

“Making the River Anton a focal point in the town has been identified as the number one priority through the recent development of the Andover Vision. Enhancing the river space at Town Mills is so much more than just about the river.

“It is part of the jigsaw and it is an important springboard we can launch our other projects. These are great areas to attract people to the town and get people to stay longer.

“If town centres are becoming a place for leisure then that is what we have to do.”

Plans for the project were first announced in April last year as part of a wider 20-year Andover Vision project to enhance the town.

The scheme running until 2037 aims to improve Andover across five initiatives; connecting the community, having a thriving town centre, supporting businesses, improving health, and supporting the green environment.

At the Town Mills park, plans are looking to improve pedestrian access and widen the existing footway along the River Anton, soften the landscaping of the river bank and plant more trees and add new street furniture.

HCC leader Roy Perry said Andover has “enormous potential.”

Cllr Perry said: “Hampshire County Council is happy to support the Andover Vision, set out by Councillor North. As a former leader of Test Valley myself, I have been interested and impressed to see all the good work being done in Andover by Councillor North and his team.

“We acknowledge it is important to identify how traffic can be removed from the river frontage in the Town Mills area, and the first step in this process will be to do some technical feasibility work into options like a new access to the car park.

“Once we have developed some initial ideas, it will be essential to hear the views of local residents and businesses on the options.

“Hampshire County Council has a dedicated fund to help the market towns of Hampshire, and Andover would be a very worthy recipient of support.”