AMBITIOUS plans to regenerate Basingstoke are to take a step forward, following a public consultation last year.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council (BDBC) now plan to work with private sector partners to enter the delivery stage of its plans to breathe life back into the town centre.

The plan has been prepared by Allies and Morrison to set the future direction for the town centre over the coming decades. 

Two rounds of public consultation were held last year to understand what residents, visitors, businesses and councillors would like to see for the future of the area.

The plan highlights locations for consideration for regeneration including The Station and The Malls, Basing View and Eastrop Roundabout, Church Street and the Top of the Town.

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Proposals include allowing buses to run through a two-way traffic system through the Top of the Town, redeveloping The Malls side with a new bus interchange at Churchill Way, upgrading historic shopfronts to modernise them and a possible new public car park in Basing View.

During a cabinet meeting held on Tuesday, December 6 cabinet member for finance and property Cllr John Izett said plans have reached a "milestone" stage, as members of the cabinet agreed to adopt the plan.

He said: "This report sets out a framework to work with other key partners to develop a new plan for Basingstoke town centre.

"That is a plan that is going to take many years to build and complete so I think we are looking at least 15 years and probably behind that.

"This report, which I think is an important milestone in the process, is going to act as a gateway for us to bring in new ideas, new investment, and new businesses of all types of retail, culture, leisure and sports to Basingstoke.

"It will also enable us to work closely with major landowners including Network Rail, Hampshire County Council and assuming it is sold the new long leaseholders of Festival Place."

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He said the next stage of the process involves bringing together representatives from retailers, businesses from the public and voluntary sectors and land owners to help make the vision reality.

He contained: "At an early point our residents were consulted and I am grateful to all those who were able to contribute. Your priorities have been taken on board in the masterplan process including preferences expressed for more town centre public green spaces in the future, a better mix of types of retailers, more cultural space and more space for activities for younger residents.

"This masterplan and framework puts us in a position to respond to those changes that are impacting town centres across the land by bringing key partners together to gather around to reshape our town centre so that its offer is more attractive to residents and brings people in, is more contemporary and more resilient and a future that is less depending on retailing and provides more good quality urban living as well as cafés, restaurants and places of interest to visit and leisure outlets."

The leader of the BDBC labour group, Cllr Andrew McCormick aired concerns during the meeting.

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He added: "What I would like to see is a strategy on employment, how we are going to get employers to locate from out of Basingstoke back into Basingstoke, bringing some of the bigger employees from out of London. We have got opportunities, we have got business parks, we have got Basing View and we have got Chineham Business Park. We have got opportunities in the town centre so I would like to hear more about that."