Share your views on ambitious ideas for the town centre’s future
Initial ideas as part of the development of a new masterplan for the area include opening up the town centre to make it more accessible, dialling up the town’s entrepreneurial spirit and ensuring the town centre is a vibrant hub during the day and night by creating opportunities for more community and cultural activities and more green spaces.
And with a host of facilities and activities on the doorstep, including shops, parks, community space and transport links, the masterplan principles consider the creation of new high quality and low carbon urban communities for those wanting to live, work and play in a central area.
To ensure the town centre continues to meet residents’ needs and brings valuable jobs to the borough, suggestions include reimagining the existing Malls building to open up the area, creating opportunities for a range of uses in addition to retail including space for community and cultural use, space for entrepreneurs, education and modernising shopfronts at the Top of the Town while celebrating the borough’s rich heritage.
Helping to meet the borough’s challenging climate change targets and encouraging a healthier lifestyle by making the town centre more walkable and cycle-friendly, opportunities being explored include the introduction of new traffic zones, introducing two-way traffic on New Road, creating a new bus interchange at Churchill Way and a new multi-storey car park in New Road.
In addition to the existing town centre green spaces, the vision is to create a ‘greener’ feel through new open spaces in Church Street and in the Top of the Town as well as new planting throughout to improve the area’s biodiversity.
The bold short, medium and long-term suggestions, which identify a number of smaller projects that can be implemented quickly, are among those being put forward by Allies and Morrison, using feedback from residents, businesses, town centre partners and the borough council.
It follows work from HemingwayDesign which has included comprehensive engagement with residents, businesses and other groups and a detailed analysis of the town’s requirements, culminating in early principles for a town centre vision.
As part of the public engagement carried out in February and March, 90% of those who took part said the town centre could be improved, only 44% agreed that the town centre is full of interesting places to eat and drink and only 34% agreed that the town centre had great arts and culture attractions.
The top suggestions on how to improve the town centre included more independent shops, independent cafes and restaurants, more cultural space and better open space to hold events and festivals.
HemingwayDesign has used the feedback to shape the emerging vision principles which aim to ensure the town centre is inclusive and diverse with people at its heart through five key principles – place, purpose, prosperity, progressive and participatory. And Allies and Morrison has explored how these ideas might change the physical arrangement of streets, spaces and buildings.
Residents, businesses, organisations and visitors are being encouraged to take a look at the early ideas being put forward and share their views by completing an online survey at www.talkbasingstoketowncentre.co.uk until Friday 12 November 2021.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development Cllr Hannah Golding said: “It is vital that we develop a long-term vision to deliver our aspirations of ensuring our town centre is a top shopping, leisure and cultural destination that attracts people to the area during the day and at night. This is central to our priority of boosting economic recovery and meeting our ambitious climate change targets.
“Allies and Morrison and HemingwayDesign have used the feedback residents, visitors, community groups and town centre partners provided earlier this year to develop some early ideas, setting out opportunities to guide how we could develop the town centre. Although these aren’t proposals, the bold ideas aim to kickstart a debate about how we can ensure the town centre has a vibrant future.
“It is vital that we hear your views to help shape the emerging vision and masterplan and guide our work with partners and ensure that the suggestions being put forward sound like the kind of town centre that you would visit for years to come.”
Director at Allies and Morrison Steve Walker added: “The concept masterplan principles showcase the proposed ideas to set the future direction for the town centre over the coming decades and it builds upon Basingstoke’s existing strengths and assets to create a framework for change to make the town resilient and adaptable to changing trends.
“A place that is distinctive and a unique blend of the historic and new. We welcome the views of local people to comment and contribute to help shape the masterplan and projects that will flow from it.”
Wayne Hemingway MBE, co-founder of HemingwayDesign, said: “The response to the survey saw a diverse range of 3317 people across all ages spend an average of 23.11 minutes, over 1,280 hours in total, talking about what they wanted to see from Basingstoke town centre.
“The many one-to-ones and group sessions have also resulted in us being able to put together bold vision principles that we believe represent your views. Now’s your chance to tell us if we are on the right track or not.”
Following the latest public engagement, HemingwayDesign and Allies and Morrison will finalise their proposals, including technical testing and feasibility work, publishing a final vision and masterplan later in the year. A decision on whether to adopt a new strategy for the town centre will be taken by councillors in spring 2022.