PLANS for a £1.5million project to replace Andover almshouses have been scrapped, more than seven years after the proposal was mooted.

Andover Charity Trustees proposed to demolish their current four-home site in Adelaide Road in order to build a new complex which would treble the number of available flats.

But at Test Valley Borough Council’s Northern Area Planning Committee in November last year the scheme was rejected, with all agreeing that something needed to be done to approve the Acre Almshouses.

Now eight months on it has been revealed that the historic building built in 1869 will not be demolished and instead the inside will be gutted and rebuilt.

Eleven options were considered by the trustees from demolishing the existing building, to relocating and changing the plan all together.

Chris Lynn, chair of the almshouse sub-committee, said: “People didn’t want them to be knocked down which I think is fair, we couldn’t leave them to rot, we couldn’t keep them as they are – they are not fit to live in.

“The first thing is to refurbish the almshouses so they will be up there for another 50 years.”

One resident is still living in her flat, but Mr Lynn said she will move out while a “full total rebuild” on the inside takes place.

Mr Lynn added that the U-turn took place after new project partners were employed, adding: “The people we were talking and said it needed far too much work and it was best to knock it down rather than keep it.”

David Borrett, member of the Andover History Society and opposer to the scheme, said: “I am very pleased that they are not going to knock the building down. I think a lot of people in the town will be happy as well.

“To knock these down and put up a brand-new building in the conservation area would be totally against council policy.

“It is amazing why it has taken so long, the survey was first mooted a few months ago.

“All this time people wanted to be housed while charity trustees deliberated over what to do.”

Mr Borrett also said “there are very little” buildings of the Victorian period remaining in Andover.

The sub-committee is currently working on the plan, and a builder has yet to be appointed to take on the project.

Bryan Beggs, who spearheaded the project, died in March last year, said something needed to be done about the site as they were “no longer fit for purpose”.