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The time ring in the centre of Andover

Scrutiny group backs town centre rejuvenation plans

Test Valley Borough Council’s overview and scrutiny committee (OSCOM) has backed cabinet’s plans to rejuvenate and future-proof the town centres.

With high streets across the country facing significant changes, OSCOM undertook a review to investigate what the council could do to help support its local town centres. The review focused on the authority’s economic development proposals and aspirations in its new Corporate Plan, Local Plan and Economic Strategy documents.

At a cabinet meeting on Monday May 20, OSCOM supported the council’s proposals for its town centres as set out in each of the plans and made seven further recommendations.

These included revising policies that focus on encouraging retail, to instead allow a greater variety of uses such as restaurants, business and homes. OSCOM also recommended exploring a range of funding options to improve people’s experience of the local town centres. They also suggested promoting the town centres to encourage business to relocate there and finding ways to enable shoppers and visitors to provide regular feedback.

Economic development portfolio holder, Councillor David Drew, said: “I am very pleased that OSCOM has endorsed the council’s approach. They have also made a number of very helpful recommendations which will reinforce the council’s commitment to its town centres.

“High streets up and down the country are changing so rapidly. It is imperative that we enable and encourage our town centres to adapt to meet the evolving needs of residents and visitors. We are also keen to work with businesses to enhance our understanding of their needs, what attracts them to town centres and what makes them stay.”