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Aldershot regeneration strategy aims to unlock potential

Funding approved to lure investors to Aldershot as the town seeks to mimic the success of nearby Farnborough.

The Galleries - a key site that requires investment

Aldershot will be marketed to potential investors in the next stage of plans to help it "step up" to the level of neighbouring Farnborough.

At Rushmoor Borough Council’s cabinet meeting on Tuesday, £60,000 worth of funding was approved to seek advice from town centre consultants and produce a prospectus promoting a vision for Aldershot and setting out a regeneration strategy for key sites.

A similar prospectus was produced for Farnborough in May 2012. Farnborough has been classified as a growth town in local enterprise partnership Enterprise M3's growth strategy, while Aldershot is described as a step-up town with untapped potential.

It is felt that part of this potential can be unlocked with external investment to revamp key sites such as The Galleries shopping centre, which has been empty for several years.

The council's director of community and environment, David Quirk, said the money would be used to draw up the vision for Aldershot and assess the viability of developing key sites, before attempting to persuade those with experience of redeveloping towns to invest in Aldershot.

“Once we have got that viability together, that will put us in a position to bid for Enterprise M3 funding,” said Mr Quirk. “The reason we need to go out to tender for this work is we simply don’t have the expertise to do it in-house.”

The work is expected to cost around £80,000, some of which will be contributed by Hampshire County Council.

Chief executive Andrew Lloyd said: “This is, I have to say, probably one of the most significant reports before you today.

“We talk a lot about the regeneration of our towns and Farnborough is, in a sense, turning the corner. Aldershot is different. One would argue it is more challenging.

“It is not really benefiting from improvements in the economy but does benefit from being a step-up town. We need to make sure members and the community buy into our vision.”

He said identifying specific sites and how they could be developed would be the "hook" to draw in investors and that the council would be "making a great deal of noise about it".

The Westgate development, a joint venture with Citygrove, was pointed to as an example of where the council had taken some risks that paid off.

Council leader Peter Moyle said: “I think we’ve demonstrated that we have come a long way, but now we need to finish the job.”

The www.aldershotretail.co.uk website, launched last July by the town centre management team, was intended as a platform to promote Aldershot to retailers and fill empty units that have come to define the town’s shopping environment in recent years.

However, in the year that has followed there has still been little news about The Galleries and fellow struggling shopping centre The Arcade.

A video promoting Aldershot as a place to live, work and visit was also recently produced by the council with support from Project Wellesley management company Grainger to circulate a positive image of the town.

To comment on improvement plans for Aldershot town centre, after investment of £4.5 million was announced last month, visit www.rushmoor.gov.uk/improvingaldershot.

 

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