SHOULD cars or cyclists be allowed on Basingstoke’s Top of The Town? Or should New Road be turned into a tree-lined boulevard?

These are some of the more radical questions that were being discussed last night by traders keen on revamping the historic part of Basingstoke town centre.

Urban Initiatives Studio, the team brought in by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to table ideas about how to revamp the ailing Top of The Town, held a ‘got you thinking’ workshop last night.

Shop owners, businesses, and other interested parties were invited to explore some of the more left-field ideas to spruce up the area.

Opportunities being explored include opening up the pedestrian area to vehicles and introducing two-way traffic on New Road.

The reason behind this is to stop the area being cut-off by the ring road and to give easier access to shops and businesses, the council says.

Building new shops on current car parks is among one of the more radical proposals, and other suggestions include keeping the pedestrian area but removing the ‘no cycling’ ban, developing an ‘events’ space or expanding the market.

Ideas to improve the appearance of the area include planting trees to create more of a ‘boulevard’ feel.

Councillor Ranil Jayawardena the council’s deputy leader, said: “We have already started consulting on some small-scale improvements for Top of The Town, and hopefully this has got people thinking about the sort of place it should be.

“A longer term vision is vital to define the area’s role in the town centre and steer its revitalisation. We really don’t want this thinking to be limited and hope this ‘nothing off the agenda’ work with Urban Initiatives Studio will encourage people to be creative.

“These aren’t proposals, and some of them may not even be possible, but they aim to kick-start a passionate debate about how we can give the town’s historic heart a successful future.”