Andover: A healthy new Vision for an historic town centre

In 2020, working with NEW Masterplanning, HemingwayDesign completed a Vision and masterplan for Andover town centre. Our team worked closely with Test Valley Borough Council, with extensive consultation with Town Council officers and members, key employers, local retailers, and the local community to secure widespread support for a comprehensive redevelopment focused on four key proposals:

1. Redevelopment of the Chantry Centre, an outdated and unattractive town centre shopping centre, recently acquired by the Council.

2. Development of a ‘WellBeing Quarter’, focusing on creating new green space for the town centre to promote physical and mental health.

3. Opening up the River Anton, currently ‘trapped’ inside a four lane gyratory. The proposals create a new pedestrian and cycle route with access to the river, enhancing the ‘shop window’ of the town centre and opening-up land for a new town centre riverfront.

4. Reducing the scale of the Ring Road and creating new ‘civic’ streets. Improving facilities for walking and cycling, and freeing land up for larger parks, new green space, and new development opportunities.

The proposals are supported by a public realm, meanwhile uses, and events strategy to maintain business confidence and support independent retailers. A variety of events, including a 5-day ‘pop-up’ shop to display the proposals and online surveys meant that more than 3,000 people were involved in shaping the Vision and masterplan. Our Vision was welcomed by the local press, the LEP and local businesses with strong cross-party support.

In 2021 we built on our relationship with Test Valley Borough council and embarked on a place brand project to build on the learnings from the Vision and Masterplan work and form a cohesive narrative for the future of Andover – one that could underpin all future activity.

Already having so much useful data from the previous engagement meant we were able to take a leap forward in the consultation process, starting from a very well informed position. We carried out a digital survey, workshops and one-on-one interviews with key stakeholders to dig deeper into what we understood about the town and its people. 

The resulting place brand narrative was very well received by council offers, elected members, business representatives and residents. It aligns perfectly with the vision and masterplan, and has reaffirmed the support for these plans. It centres around three key values that aim to describe Andover’s existing strengths whilst building in ambition for the future. It was vital to find ways to talk about Andover as distinct from comparable market towns and the neighbours that it always gets compared to – there was a strong sentiment among locals that ‘Andover isn’t Winchester, and it doesn’t want to be’.

The three values are:

1. Strength in connection

This value talks about Andover as a place that is more than just a town centre but a connected ecosystem of surrounding villages and parts of the town. It celebrates Andover’s strength in having existing networks for business, support and communities.

2. Everything on our doorstep

This focuses on the way that Andover is special in having strengths and assets that hit a lot of the key criteria for residents to live happy, healthy lives. It has culture, history, access to nature, affordability, a sense of safety, engaged communities, growing strengths in wellbeing and health and plenty of independent businesses. In this way it ‘ticks the box’ for a huge spread of attractive qualities, more so than for a usual town of this size.

3. A breath of fresh air

Fresh air and open space bring clarity. We need space to breathe, to think and to grow and Andover is perfectly poised to tap into the wider wellbeing and green living Agenda. Andover means ‘over water’ – the river is its reason for being, and yet for many visitors, our crystal clear chalk stream is a big surprise. Andover has plenty more surprises in store; you just have to scratch beneath the surface to uncover them.

As of August 2022, the place brand has been fully signed off and we’re moving into the implementation, activation and management stage – an exciting stage to work out what the place brand will look like in practice.

The Vision and masterplan highlighted the importance of meanwhile activations, pop-up activity, and events to bring together the local community, help to create identity, and to give residents and visitors the gift of surprise and entertainment, helping increase visitor satisfaction and town centre footfall.

Following the Vision and masterplan, we worked with TVBC on an ‘event and meanwhile strategy’ for the town centre. The strategy explored ways Andover could be bold coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic, creating bespoke proposals for markets, events and meanwhile uses. 

Second Sundays Andover is the first outcome of this strategy. Andover and its surrounding towns and villages are packed with talent – designing, making, cooking, crafting, and brewing. Second Sundays brings together some of the best local producers, designer-makers, and artists in the region, alongside street food, live DJs, and free creative workshops, on the second Sunday of every month in Andover town centre.

With two successful events under our belts, the third edition of Second Sundays will take over Andover High Street this Sunday, 14th August. Offering everything from speciality coffee to homemade bakes, locally grown flowers to handmade artworks, jewellery and ceramics, alongside excellent street food from Hampshire based businesses, craft drinks from Andover’s first and only micro-bar – The Andover Tap, and three hands-on workshops hosted by local creatives. All soundtracked to a vinyl only DJ set.

If you’re local to the region, this is not one to miss! Or if you fancy visiting somewhere new this Sunday, why not Andover!?

“This is a truly incredible day for the town and I am so excited to finally be able to share our plans for the future of Andover. This is the culmination of a huge amount of hard work and I would like to say a massive thank you to the amazing teams at HemingwayDesign and NEW masterplanning for sharing my passion and vision for the town and believing in its potential.”

Phil North, Leader of Test Valley Borough Council.