Masterplan to reimagine and revive Basingstoke town centre
A blueprint to breathe new life into Basingstoke town centre, making it a more vibrant place day and night, has been approved.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Cabinet last week (Tuesday 6 December) voted to adopt the Town Centre Strategy for Basingstoke to attract more footfall, improve the environment and bring greater vibrancy, prosperity and improved transport infrastructure to the town.
The strategy was developed with an extensive public engagement process that generated over 3,000 responses in 2021. From this the principles and masterplan were developed.
High streets and town centres across the country continue to need to evolve in reaction to the decline of high street retail and the pressures of climate change and the pandemic, forcing rethinking about buildings, spaces and lifestyles.
The new strategy provides the council with a framework to make decisions about improvements in the town centre and identifies areas for possible redevelopment. The strategy outlines a future for Basingstoke as a prosperous place to live, work and play.
The masterplan uses the historic layout of Basingstoke to reimagine the current town centre to include more traditional streets that would mean that the town is not so reliant on the success of retail, restoring flexibility to provide community and cultural uses, workspace, and education.
The masterplan provides clear guidance on delivering change in the short, medium and long term, covering up to the next 15 years, to create a greener, more resilient town centre fit for the future.
The vision is to create a greener feel to the town centre by creating new pockets of green spaces, as well as new planting throughout to improve the area’s biodiversity.
Cabinet member for Finance and Property Cllr John Izett said “Basingstoke town centre is one of the UK's top shopping centres, but like so many centres across the country it is threatened by changing shopping habits and economic pressures post-COVID. That is why as a council we are taking action with a new plan to ensure that our town centre has a strong, resilient future.
"What residents told us they wanted is the central pillar of the plan so that our town centre will remain relevant and attractive. We now need to move forward purposefully with partners to implement this exciting new plan."
The masterplan development has been supported by transport partners Stagecoach, South West Railway, Network Rail and Hampshire County Council. At the same Cabinet meeting the Town Centre Parking Strategy, which will act as an important framework within which to make decisions around how town centre car parking will work in the future, was adopted.
In recognition of the essential role arts and culture play in the vitality of town centres and how this could develop in the future, a framework for culture in Basingstoke and Deane was also developed, which will be implemented through a Cultural Compact partnership.
Town centre art projects have already started to improve the environment, for example through Streets Alive and the community art wall. The next steps will involve bringing forward schemes to improve the public open spaces, for example around the Anvil, and continued work on planning transport improvements, as well as detailed analysis of the regeneration opportunities of council-owned sites.