LOCAL COUNCILLOR'S are backing a £7.2million shopping centre deal made by Test Valley Borough Council.

Councillor Ian McNeil Richards who represents the Abbey ward has said he "is in agreement" with the borough councils purchase of the Chantry Centre in Andover.

The deal will allow Test Valley Borough council to ‘push forward’ with a project of creating a ‘Cultural Quarter’ on the former magistrates court site while also undertaking works on the Chantry Centre to provide a major redevelopment of Andover town centre.

Cllr Richards said: "I can see the long term benefit of buying the centre.

"It's been looking tired for a long time and we are going to look at what the town and the people need."

He added: "We will treat the Romsey future project with the same treatment."

Councillor Celia Dowden who represents the North Baddesley ward also said she was "pleased" about the deal.

She added: "At the borough council we felt like we could manage the retail side of the centre better than it has been.

"It's an opportunity for us to develop in into something great for the people Andover.

"We want to maximise the site to its full potential.

"It is a really exciting opportunity.

"We need to bring more families to our towns and we have the Romsey Future Project to develop Romsey in the future."

Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Phil North said: “This is an incredibly important purchase for the council. I have made clear my aspiration to improve Andover – and full ownership of the Chantry Centre is essential in order for us to pursue our redevelopment plans."

Work is expected to begin immediately to completely refurbish the toilets at Andover bus station, to bring the facilities up to the same standard as the new Changing Places toilet in the Unity premises.

And it is planned that the Chantry Centre car park opening hours will be extended “for the benefit of customers of The Lights and leisure centre, as well as those out for drinks or a meal in the town centre.”

Plans for a ‘Cultural Quarter’ were unveiled in 2017 after the magistrates court closed in 2010 as the government decided that 93 courts were to shut in England and Wales to modernise the judicial system.

The borough council previously owned 40 per cent of the Chantry Centre, but has taken over the control of the site by buying the long leasehold from management company Aviva.

Following masterplan work and public feedback, the council will evaluate redevelopment options in a bid to attract more jobs to the borough and increase town centre footfall.