BUSINESSES in Andover's shopping centre have seen their service charge fall by a third since Test Valley Borough Council bought the mall in 2019.

The charge, which covers the management, promotion and maintenance of the Chantry Centre, has dropped from £1.2M in 2019 to £850K for 2022.

But businesses will still receive the same level of support as they have in previous years, as the council has identified significant cost savings and more efficient ways of delivering the same services.

As part of this efficiency drive, the council is now managing the centre directly, rather than using a management company which has been the case historically.

Since purchasing the centre, the council says it has made a number of improvements, including refurbishing the lifts in the multi-storey car park and the toilets by the bus station, repairing the leaking roof and upgrading the CCTV system.

With the reduction in the overall service charge bill, the vast majority of tenants will see their service charge fall, while a handful will have their charges frozen at 2021 levels. Before the council acquired the Chantry Centre, tenants would generally see a year-on-year increase in their service charge.

READ MORE: Test Valley Borough Council to spend £250,000 on Masterplan

Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Cllr Phil North, said: “I am pleased that we have been able to reduce the service charge for the third year in a row. Many businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic and we will continue to do all we can to support them. As well as continuing to facilitate pop-up shops and indoor markets, we’re also planning to run a series of major town centre events this year to help drive up footfall.

“Although we’ve got plans for a fundamental redevelopment of the Chantry Centre in the coming years, it’s imperative that we do all we can to keep those businesses in Andover in what is a really tough trading environment, so they can come on that journey with us. We will therefore continue to forensically analyse the service charge to identify any further cost savings without compromising the level of support and services the businesses receive.”

The council has written to all tenants with details of the service charge for 2022.

Reacting to the news, Steve Godwin, manager of the Andover Business Improvement District (BID) told the Advertiser: "It's fantastic. TVBC has now taken on full ownership of the centre, and its meant that they can offer an improved service for less cost to the residents.

"That has got to be a benefit! It's one of the few shopping centres where you actually have that happen."

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