Keeping Basingstoke’s historic heart at the Top of the Town as a focus for independent business and developing its identity as a cultural quarter is the aim of an action plan backed by the council.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Cabinet last night (Tuesday 11 July) renewed its commitment to revitalising the area by approving the Basingstoke Town Centre Programme for 2017 to 2019.
The Cabinet heard that progress has been made over the past four years since the first Basingstoke Town Centre Plan was agreed, creating a positive and supportive business environment and encouraging entrepreneurs to have the confidence to invest in the area.
There has been an increase in new businesses over the past six months, such as sports shop Up and Running, steakhouse and wine bar Number 12 and a Mexican burrito bar. The number of vacant retail units has also significantly reduced.
To build on this success, proposals for the fourth town centre programme include an exciting programme of events organised by Basingstoke Together - the business improvement district (BID) - with support from the council to encourage greater footfall and benefit local businesses.
These include the current Made in Basingstoke celebration that runs until Sunday 13 August, a film festival in September, a week of spooky activities, including Day of the Dead, in October and a host of festive fun before Christmas.
It is also planned to make the Top of the Town the focus for engaging with night-time economy businesses such as bars and restaurants, developing a cultural quarter that brings together arts organisations, creative industries and artists and establishing an enterprise hub to provide a supportive business community space.
The council will continue to work in partnership with businesses and other organisations that have an interest in the town centre to make improvements. Top of the agenda is looking for ways to tackle issues raised by local businesses and residents that are a barrier to the area reaching its full potential, including littering and some incidents of antisocial behaviour.
Deputy Leader Cllr Terri Reid said: “Basingstoke Town Centre Programme has already made positive changes for local people and helped to support businesses. It has provided a focus for coordinated action to address issues and seize opportunities, especially in the Top of the Town. Together we have made progress but we acknowledge that there is still more to do and some issues to tackle.
“This action plan shows our commitment to continuing to build on what has already been achieved, with exciting proposals including the development of a cultural hub based around the Willis Museum and The Haymarket.
“The Basingstoke Town Centre Programme will continue to focus on business engagement and partnership working, environmental improvements and creating more of a ‘feel-good’ factor at the Top of the Town.”