A ‘first-of-its-kind’ space for Andover businesses has had its official opening after a soft launch last month.

Incuhive Andover, located on the upper floors of Chantry House, the blocks rising above the Chantry Centre, was commissioned following a grant of over £200,000 given to Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) to refurbish the floors and open the space to businesses. The building was opened by Councillor Mark Cooper, the mayor of Test Valley, on Monday (August 16).

The leader of TVBC, Cllr Phil North, said: “I was really pleased to see the quality of the facilities that have been delivered here right in the centre of our town. This will boost footfall, hopefully cut down on emissions and travel time for office workers, and give smaller businesses that precious space that they may need. It also gives an option for those still working from home away from their kitchen table.

“My thanks to the Local Enterprise Partnership for backing this project and we can all see the quality of what’s been delivered as a result. The project is very much in line with our plans for the wider redevelopment of the town centre, which will see a greater mix of work and leisure uses, alongside traditional retail. Along with the other projects that will come forward in the area, IncuHive will help us to create a vibrant, diverse and robust town centre that is fit for the future.”

Plans for the site were announced back in March, with TVBC given a grant by the M3 Local Enterprise Partnership to take on the project.

Six offices will be created, as well as 30 rentable desks, recreation areas and reception facilities. There will also be photo and video studios, as well as an innovation space, for creative industries in the building.

Flexible working has become increasingly popular even before the pandemic, with companies such as WeWork seeing explosive growth throughout the 2010s. It has been predicted that following Covid, flexible working will continue to grow after the mix of home and office work in the pandemic proved successful.

Renovations began in earnest in June, with an “ambitious” opening date of July 1. Part of the facility did open on that day for one customer, while the rest of the site continued undergoing renovations.

Amy Padfield, from Incuhive, previously told the Advertiser that “there are lots of customers looking to move in” to the facility, with the offices designed to be adaptable so that Covid mitigation measures can be increased and decreased as necessary.

The offices are also likely to be the longest surviving part of the overall Chantry Centre complex, which is slated for demolition under the Andover Masterplan. The demolition is intended to take place in phases, with the Incuhive to be one of the last sections to face the wrecking ball.

There is currently no date for this demolition, with estimates of at least a decade until the work begins. Outline plans for the project, however, suggest new office spaces in the buildings that will replace it.