Depending on your view, you either love living Basingstoke or believe one or two things are needed to improve the town. 

But residents know that despite the never-ending jokes about roundabouts and coffee shops, there is more to life here than navigating your way around the one-way system. 

With Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council canvassing opinions from the public over how they would change the town centre, we put the question to our readers. 

We asked what they want to change in Basingstoke if they had a magic wand - and here is what they said, in no specific order.

1. More independent shops

Many people suggested that Basingstoke needs more independent shops.

Some readers said they felt that, because the town centre is consumed by large shopping malls with traditionally higher rents, it has driven away smaller, independent shops. 

One reader said: “Support small businesses, which means lowering the ridiculous rent in Festival Place.

“Surely it's more logical to have more shops in generating an income than empty units?”

Another one commented: “The town is so uninspiring and virtually identical to almost every other town.”

Another reader added: “Festival Place needs to get real and bring down the rents, so smaller and more interesting shops bring back customers to the town centre. We are tired of the same chains and there isn't much of interest to bring people into the town that they wouldn't have anywhere else. Get original, stop being so boring and generic.”

2. Improve the ‘appalling’ nightlife

Fans of Fever may disagree but some readers said steps were needed to put more on offer for nightclub-goers in town.

The Covid-restrictions might have added to the lack of social engagements, but readers believe our town needs more pubs and nightclubs.

One reader said: “[We need] More pubs and live music venues!”

While, another commented: “…turn the top of town into an area with a vibrant and safe nightlife…”

3. Soft play centres

One reader pointed out that Basingstoke has a shortage of soft play centres.

She said: “There is literally no soft play centres now, other than sports centre which is tiny and hardly open.

“Barely any activities for younger children, and we really need to stop building houses when business are constantly closing and being replaced with housing, where are we all supposed to work?”

“We'll end up being overpopulated with high unemployment rates and the kids will have no where to play.”

4. Value sports more

Camrose and Ice Rink were two prominent themes in the responses as a number of readers said the Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council should value sports more.

One reader said: “[I want] Basingstoke FC to return to the Camrose along with keeping the ice hockey in town.”

Another said: “I'd redo the Leisure Park, so the ice rink was refurbished to be a national centre of excellence, add an indoor skate park, and an outdoor MTB trail, as well as an indoor climbing centre and other leisure facilities. The last thing we need is more shops!”

5. Bring back the markets

While the Top of Town markets have been functioning safely through lockdown, according to some readers they want more.  

One respondent said: “[We need] Farmers markets as well as the regular market. Bring the carnival back.”

6. Fewer houses, cheaper rent

Housing is another major issue of concern in Basingstoke, according to some who expressed concerns over the volume of houses but the lack of options in prices.  

One said: “Make it how it was Late 80s. Not as many houses. Less traffic. The strawberry picking fields still there. Shops shut Sundays and bank Holidays. Kids out playing. Neighbours all out with them getting on, everyone was polite and protected each other. Felt safe.”

Another reader said: “Rent prices are stupid compared to other areas.

“I had a one-bed flat with a garage for £675 a month. In Andover, I have a three-bed with a garden and garage for just £100 more. Only reason being the train station direct into London.

“I don’t think enough people in Basingstoke work in London to justify those rent prices when income in the town isn’t the same as a London wage.”

And here are some other ideas ... 

We also received several other stand-alone suggestions. One suggested that the Basingstoke Tip should be free and available round the clock to reduce the fly-tipping incidents. We're not sure what Hampshire County Council would make of this. 

The reader wrote: “Open the Basingstoke Tip all day. So we can all use it at any time we require. Never any tip slots available, and the fly tipping will stop.

Another reader agreed to this suggestion and added: “You have to pay for certain things to be bumped as well, that’s why fly tipping will continue.

“There should be no extra charges. Especially the amount of council tax we have to pay each year to Basingstoke council.”

Some other seemed quite impossible, like the plan to bring Basingstoke canal back through the town.

Some cheekily suggested changes to the local newspaper. Any letters of feedback are welcomed for consideration by the editor in the usual way. You can email