Thank you to the 2,688 people who responded to the consultation on the redevelopment of Andover town centre.

I’m firmly with the 97 per cent of residents who thought the town could be improved – which is why I’ve made rejuvenating our town centres the council’s number one priority. I assume the 3 per cent are either very easily satisfied or they represent the naysayers of Andover, who don’t believe that Andover deserves better.

The consultation also shone a light on the changing nature of the high street with 58 per cent of respondents reporting that they recently visited town to eat, drink and socialise and 31 per cent visiting for a cultural or sports activity.

Town Centres are fast becoming more of a place for leisure and living as well as retail – and we need to respond to those changes.

This month I’ve hosted sessions in the Lights Theatre and the Guildhall for Andover stakeholders to feed in their views on what they want to see from the redevelopment – and in the next few weeks, instructed our Masterplanners to facilitate a consultation session with Andover retailers and a further stakeholder session in St Mary’s Church.

It’s also imperative that members of the public have another say, this time on the emerging design principles. So, we’ve secured a vacant shop unit, at 4 Bridge Street, on a short-term lease to facilitate further public consultation.

The shop will be open and manned from 9am-5pm every day between Wednesday, December 11 and Sunday, December 15. So, please drop in and have your say.

In the meantime, and whilst we develop the masterplan, we have been working hard to make short term improvements to the Chantry Centre.

Refurbishing the public toilets; repairing the lifts and developing plans to counter the historic under investment by making the centre weather and wind proof – so we can eventually get rid of all those buckets that adorn the centre.

Our easy-in-easy-out leases are slowly reducing the amount of vacant shops as several businesses and organisations now feel confident to come in and test the market – and by the time of my next column, I hope to be able to make a major announcement that will benefit all our Chantry Centre tenants.

Watch this space!