A MAJOR bid has begun to kickstart the regeneration of Havant, Waterlooville and Leigh Park town centres.
Havant Borough Council has produced an action plan to rejuvenate the town’s shopping hubs, which have been left with an array of empty shops following the recession.
Up to £700,000 will be pumped into improving the visual appearance at the northern end of London Road precinct in Waterlooville.
A total of £343,000 had been obtained via the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire, together with £327,000 that was left over from the government’s £3.3m Liveability grant to help spruce up the borough back in 2004. The fountain and steps will be removed, the area relandscaped and new street furniture installed. Across the town centres, owners of all businesses will be requested to ensure shop frontages are attractive and kept clear of litter and vegetation.
South West Trains is to be requested by the council to clear litter and overgrown weeds around Havant train station. Councillor David Guest, deputy leader of the council, also revealed that the council is in early talks with a developer over plans to regenerate Market Parade.
In Leigh Park, where almost a quarter of shops are empty, a task force is to urgently address the litter, appearance, street furniture and parking issues in Park Parade and Greywell.
Cllr Guest said: ‘We have not got lots of money to spend.
‘We are raising awareness and hoping people will join in and do the best they can. There’s big property owners like the banks, the train station. They have to play their part.’
A total of 120 businesses across the Havant area gave their views on what needs to be done to spruce up the town centres, and 904 residents filled in questionnaires via the Citizen’s Panel.
Terry Jordan, chairman of Havant Business Group, applauded the council for covering up empty frontages with colourful signs that urged people to shop locally.
He said: ‘We think it’s a good idea. If we can do our bit and keep the town looking tidy, people will hopefully enjoy the shopping experience.’
by JEFF TRAVIS