Strategy for the future of Basingstoke town centre
Share your views on ambitious ideas for the town centre’s future
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has appointed a team of experts in looking at how places can be transformed, including HemingwayDesign, Allies and Morrison and JLL, to help develop an ambitious strategy for the town centre area.
High streets across the UK have and continue to experience the effects of changes in shopping habits. Although Basingstoke town centre, including Festival Place and The Malls, has had success in attracting investment and new retailers in recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that town centres across the country are facing significant challenges, such as a decline in footfall and shop closures.
Recognising the importance of a sustainable town centre as a key part of the borough’s recovery from the pandemic, the aim is to create a vision and masterplan to guide work and ensure the town centre offers an exciting shopping, leisure and cultural experience.
The first round of public and stakeholder engagement was held in February and March 2021 to understand what residents, visitors, businesses and councillors would like to see for the future of the area.
Survey results and draft vision
Over 3,300 people responded to this survey, with 90% agreeing the town centre could be improved, 44% agreeing that the town centre is full of interesting places to eat and drink and 34% agreeing 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 its draft vision ideas 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 masterplanner Allies and Morrison has explored how these ideas might change the physical arrangement of streets, spaces and buildings through short, medium and long-term projects to shape the future of the town centre including 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.
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 introducing 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.
Residents, businesses, organisations and visitors are being encouraged to share their views on the ideas by taking part in a 15-minute online survey.
The full results of the previous survey and all of the ideas put forward will be available on the website. The survey will be live until Friday 12 November 2021.
Following the latest public engagement, HemingwayDesign and Allies and Morrison will finalise their proposals, including technical testing and feasibility work, publishing a draft 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.