The Valley of the River Test: creating better access to water
At its Special Council Meeting on Thursday (23rd June 2022) Test Valley Borough Council agreed unanimously to submit a bid to the Government's Levelling Up Fund for up to £20 million towards the delivery of elements of the Andover Town Regeneration Masterplan. Part of the plan involves the creation of a riverside park along the Western Avenue gyratory and opening up the River Anton, which is a tributary of the River Test. The bid was proposed by Council Leader, Phil North, and strongly supported by Romsey Councillor, Mark Cooper.
Councillor Cooper noted that the residents of Test valley had the great privilege of living in one of Planet Earth's rarest ecosystems, where rainfall spends 20 years percolating through deep chalk strata before entering the Anton and the Test creating pure, pristine, clear streams.
"Proximity to water is fundamental to the human psyche," says Cllr Cooper. "Whether it is a riverside or a seashore, people are drawn to it. Being near water enhances our well being and lifts out spirits. Every settlement, however large or small, was originally located next to water - yet in modern times we have covered over our rivers and streams, forced and confined them into culverts and hidden them from view."
"Opening up and improving our access to water is important across the whole of Test Valley for all our residents, not just those in Andover. To this end we acquired Rooksbury Mill back in the 1990's. It's why, after trying for 20 years, we acquired Fishlake Meadows. Today we focus on Andover, which is very much part of that continuum of creating better access to 'our' water. But too much of the River Test remains inaccessible. I remind my fellow Councillors that much remains to be done to access our riversides in both Romsey and the Test Valley."