The former base of Test Valley Borough Council’s (TVBC) housing stock is itself set to become housing after plans were approved for a change of use.

Testway House, located on Greenwich Way, was formerly the home of Testway Housing, a company spun out of TVBC into its own housing association. Following a merger, the company has applied to convert the building into 21 apartments.

The change of use was granted by the council at the start of the month, though planning officer Luke Benjamin noted that “this approval will still require the applicant to secure planning permission for the operational development proposed before the development commences.”

Testway Housing was formed in 1999 following a vote of tenants of TVBC. They agreed to the process of large scale voluntary transfer, enabling the council’s housing department to become a stand-alone housing association.

The company pursued a merger in 2011 with two other housing associations, Sarsen Housing and Flourish, which it said would allow it to obtain more government funding for housing development. The merger went ahead in 2012, forming housing association Aster.

Testway House itself was built shortly after the company’s formation in 2000, and was used as offices for some time. Plans to convert the building into 18 apartments were submitted in 2019, but withdrawn.

The new plans detail seven apartments on each of the building’s three floors, as well as a storage room for residents of each floor.

Concerns were raised about the potential impact on residents from noise from the adjacent industrial estate. TVBC’s environmental health team recommended that sound proofing be installed within the building, as well as specific glazing and plastering to minimise the sound impact from businesses on residents, as well as between apartments.

Andover Town Council, when considering the application, had called for Aster to submit a full planning application “with emphasis on solar panels, electric charging points and more climate friendly infrastructure.”

Following consideration by TVBC’s officers, the change of use was approved, though some of the changes, such as those to windows, will require further planning permission before development begins.