Calls for more devolution, a covered market, public toilets and the creation of a civic centre were among the proposals mooted by Andover’s town and borough councillors as the Andover Masterplan passed last night (September 29).

Councillors from the Andover Independents Party and Andover Alliance spoke at the special TVBC meeting last night, calling the regeneration of the town centre a “key policy.”

Cllr David Coole, TVBC representative for Anna Ward and ATC representative for Romans, called on the borough council to “speedily transfer” powers to the town council, including “the assets, finance and responsibilities for the Andover Levy and non Levy Parish-level Services.” Currently, the town council has limited powers, being responsible for events such as the Christmas lights and commenting on planning applications.

Cllr Coole said: “This Council can no longer blame Covid-19 for holding up the Levy and non-Levy transfer negotiations and for not providing the information the Town Council requested many, many months ago.”

He added: “The empowerment and engagement of Town Councils to help deliver positive change is key to successful Town Centre regenerations.”

He called on TVBC to move its offices in Andover, currently based at Beech Hurst, to move into the regenerated town centre, which he said will “demonstrate its commitment to the Masterplan.” Furthermore, he said it would enable the creation of a civic centre, and tourist information centre, “that will be fit for the 21st Century onwards.”

He suggested TVBC and ATC to establish a local department store operated by the councils for local startups, as well as a covered market, “to encourage business growth and increased footfall.”

Cllr Rebecca Meyer also called on TVBC to assist the town council’s business community by establishing a local investment bank. She also said that she hopes that TVBC “reverses its decision to close the Town Centre toilets or at least allows the Town Council should it so request, to build new public toilets on currently owned TVBC land,” calling them “essential for the health and wellbeing of residents and visitors to the Town Centre.”

Mayor of Andover Richard Rowles focused on the social aspects of Andover, saying that there needs to be a “dual track” approach.

“All this physical development is great,” he said, “but the second track that we need is one which focuses on youth and community development in Andover given the social problems that we face at the moment.”

The masterplan subsequently passed unanimously and was adopted by TVBC.