MULTI-million-pound plans to reinvigorate Andover town centre have taken a major step forward.

Test Valley Borough Council has bought the Chantry Centre outright, in a deal worth £7.2million.

The agreement will allow the council to ‘push forward’ with a project of creating a ‘Cultural Quarter’ on the former magistrates court site while also undertaking works on the Chantry Centre to provide a major redevelopment of Andover town centre.

Work is expected to begin immediately to completely refurbish the toilets at Andover bus station, to bring the facilities up to the same standard as the new Changing Places toilet in the Unity premises.

And it is planned that the Chantry Centre car park opening hours will be extended “for the benefit of customers of The Lights and leisure centre, as well as those out for drinks or a meal in the town centre.”

Plans for a ‘Cultural Quarter’ were unveiled in 2017 after the magistrates court closed in 2010 as the government decided that 93 courts were to shut in England and Wales to modernise the judicial system.

The borough council previously owned 40 per cent of the Chantry Centre, but has taken over the control of the site by buying the long leasehold from management company Aviva.

Following masterplan work and public feedback, the council will evaluate redevelopment options in a bid to attract more jobs to the borough and increase town centre footfall.