Urban Initiatives Studio appointed to transform area

Andover Advertiser: Councillor Ranil Jayawardena Councillor Ranil Jayawardena

EXPERTS have been brought in by the borough council to work on a long-term plan for The Top of the Town.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough council has appointed Urban Initiatives Studios to transform the ailing part of the town centre.

The team says it will look at what can be done to improve the way the area looks, enhance its role as the historic part of the town centre and attract new business and facilities to complement Festival Place and The Malls.

Plans are already underway to reopen a former restaurant that has been empty for some time, as a pop-up shop, within the next two months.

The Shop Start scheme is a partnership with Basingstoke College of Technology to bring the council-owned retail unit in Church Street back into use by retail, fashion and entrepreneurial students, who will sell new products they have developed.

The council hopes Urban Initiatives Studios will create a vision that will influence licensing and planning.

Work will begin with existing businesses and representatives of The Top of the Town groups.

A group representing traders, businesses, landlords and organisations in the town centre was set up following a summit meeting in July, at which businesses and organisations expressed support.

The first meeting of the new Basingstoke Town Centre Forum will take place in September, and they will keep the town centre community informed.

Councillor Ranil Jayawardena, the council’s deputy leader, said: “The Top of the Town is our historic heart and we are keen to ensure it is not left behind as Basingstoke storms forward into the 21st Century. Significant progress is already being made on our pledged improvements – but a longer term vision is vital to define the area’s role in the town centre.”

Ideas are already being explored to upgrade the benches and introduce landscape planters, bollards and other street furniture in the public spaces.

The aim is to consult on this in the autumn and start work early next year.

For more information visit basingstoke.gov.uk/ go/townchanges.

Comments (11)

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12:59pm Thu 29 Aug 13

AndrewRH says...

Let's hope the design includes #SpaceForCycling into the plans - there are economic benefits for retailers when the use of bicycles to get to and from their shops are put in place, as a recent report from New Zealand laid out. Things like safe routes and secure parking. Simple & cheap.

A debate in Parliament this coming Monday 2nd September is all about how governments can #GetBritainCycling - to realise the money to be made by shops; and money to be saved by NHS and you & me. Website SpaceForCycling.org has info.
Let's hope the design includes #SpaceForCycling into the plans - there are economic benefits for retailers when the use of bicycles to get to and from their shops are put in place, as a recent report from New Zealand laid out. Things like safe routes and secure parking. Simple & cheap. A debate in Parliament this coming Monday 2nd September is all about how governments can #GetBritainCycling - to realise the money to be made by shops; and money to be saved by NHS and you & me. Website SpaceForCycling.org has info. AndrewRH
  • Score: 4

2:41pm Thu 29 Aug 13

Opinions_opinions says...

Andrew ,, sounds like an advert for bicycles ! Anyway, how to improve the top of town. Reduce rents. Get rid of the alcoholics and beggars. Keep it free of rubbish (Mcdonalds should pay for this as it is mostly their rubbish). Approach larger brands and offer them incentives to set up on a trial basis. (Richer Sounds) Get more young designer boutiques (Students) again by offering cheaper rents. Get a College to rent a shop and display/sell students wares. Put more events on at the top of town instead of always being outside Marks and Spencer. A few starters there. What the council should be doing is putting this out to the people of Basingstoke asking what they want instead of paying huge sums to a company who probably has never been to Basingstoke before and has no idea what the demographic is. But then that's councils all over, wasting money.
Andrew ,, sounds like an advert for bicycles ! Anyway, how to improve the top of town. Reduce rents. Get rid of the alcoholics and beggars. Keep it free of rubbish (Mcdonalds should pay for this as it is mostly their rubbish). Approach larger brands and offer them incentives to set up on a trial basis. (Richer Sounds) Get more young designer boutiques (Students) again by offering cheaper rents. Get a College to rent a shop and display/sell students wares. Put more events on at the top of town instead of always being outside Marks and Spencer. A few starters there. What the council should be doing is putting this out to the people of Basingstoke asking what they want instead of paying huge sums to a company who probably has never been to Basingstoke before and has no idea what the demographic is. But then that's councils all over, wasting money. Opinions_opinions
  • Score: 5

3:29pm Thu 29 Aug 13

AndrewRH says...

Not an advert per se as I don't sell bicycles! I do ride a bicycle daily to commute to work, experiencing first hand how public spaces need to improve to accommodate vulnerable users more safely (and profitably!)

I have just had a couple positive email exchanges with the newly hired Town Centre Project Manager, Chas Bradfield about cycling provision. His email is at the bottom of the B&DBC Town Centre
Programme Update newsletter in July (upon which I presume this Basingstoke Gazette article was based).

That same newsletter says a 'foum' is to be created; so those points you raise, Opinions_opinions, could likely be put forward to that? Or just email Chas like I did?
Not an advert per se as I don't sell bicycles! I do ride a bicycle daily to commute to work, experiencing first hand how public spaces need to improve to accommodate vulnerable users more safely (and profitably!) I have just had a couple positive email exchanges with the newly hired Town Centre Project Manager, Chas Bradfield about cycling provision. His email is at the bottom of the B&DBC Town Centre Programme Update newsletter in July (upon which I presume this Basingstoke Gazette article was based). That same newsletter says a 'foum' is to be created; so those points you raise, Opinions_opinions, could likely be put forward to that? Or just email Chas like I did? AndrewRH
  • Score: 0

4:05pm Thu 29 Aug 13

a_c_ford says...

"Ideas are already being explored to upgrade the benches and introduce landscape planters, bollards and other street furniture in the public spaces."

Wow, they could have asked the alcoholics and beggars and they would have come up with better ideas...

The problem with the 'top of town' as we all seem to call it is it is dirty and there are no shops of any importance, the restaurants suffered because of FP, the bars are cheap and sleezy and everywhere else is run down and had it's day. Instead of upgrading benches money should be spent of cleaning up and restoring the buildings. Oh, and no more cheap, pikie £1 shops that sell tat thank you very much. The 'bottom of town' as I shall call it had a face lift but all the shops are crap. This is the problem...!
"Ideas are already being explored to upgrade the benches and introduce landscape planters, bollards and other street furniture in the public spaces." Wow, they could have asked the alcoholics and beggars and they would have come up with better ideas... The problem with the 'top of town' as we all seem to call it is it is dirty and there are no shops of any importance, the restaurants suffered because of FP, the bars are cheap and sleezy and everywhere else is run down and had it's day. Instead of upgrading benches money should be spent of cleaning up and restoring the buildings. Oh, and no more cheap, pikie £1 shops that sell tat thank you very much. The 'bottom of town' as I shall call it had a face lift but all the shops are crap. This is the problem...! a_c_ford
  • Score: 1

8:23am Fri 30 Aug 13

jbee37 says...

Stop opening Charity shops for a start. Another one has just opened where Chicago rocks used to be. The top of town is doomed if it carries on like this.
Stop opening Charity shops for a start. Another one has just opened where Chicago rocks used to be. The top of town is doomed if it carries on like this. jbee37
  • Score: 1

9:45am Fri 30 Aug 13

laurence86 says...

I’m not convinced the top of town need reviving, the top of town seems to be a more function part of town for locals. Every time I go to town with a purpose like a haircut, getting a part for my bike or visiting a recruitment agency I find myself at the top of town. The vast majority of visitors park up in festival place and mill about in festival place. When you look at the exits from festival place, how they are designed and what you can see from inside the mall it is easy to see how many visitors fail to notice the exit to the Haymarket. This problem is compounded by the fact that Festival place don’t even show it on their map:

http://www.festivalp
lace.co.uk/sitefiles
/Mall%20Guide_July%2
02013.pdf

The best way to get new visitors to the top of town is to entice them from the festival place mall by making the exit more noticeable or inviting. Until then the top of town will remain a locals patch for functional purposes.
I’m not convinced the top of town need reviving, the top of town seems to be a more function part of town for locals. Every time I go to town with a purpose like a haircut, getting a part for my bike or visiting a recruitment agency I find myself at the top of town. The vast majority of visitors park up in festival place and mill about in festival place. When you look at the exits from festival place, how they are designed and what you can see from inside the mall it is easy to see how many visitors fail to notice the exit to the Haymarket. This problem is compounded by the fact that Festival place don’t even show it on their map: http://www.festivalp lace.co.uk/sitefiles /Mall%20Guide_July%2 02013.pdf The best way to get new visitors to the top of town is to entice them from the festival place mall by making the exit more noticeable or inviting. Until then the top of town will remain a locals patch for functional purposes. laurence86
  • Score: 4

10:38am Fri 30 Aug 13

Buster Preciation says...

Surely getting some consultancy to redesign the TOTT will make it look like Festival Place - i.e. every other new town in the country. What's wrong with it the way it is? It always seems as busy as the rest of town when I'm there. So it's obviously got what local people want. TOTT is what makes towns like Basingstoke unique.
Surely getting some consultancy to redesign the TOTT will make it look like Festival Place - i.e. every other new town in the country. What's wrong with it the way it is? It always seems as busy as the rest of town when I'm there. So it's obviously got what local people want. TOTT is what makes towns like Basingstoke unique. Buster Preciation
  • Score: 4

12:14pm Fri 30 Aug 13

Sam_Walker123456 says...

In March The Gazette reported, 'Chas Bradfield, 51, has been appointed Basingstoke Town Centre Project Manager by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council........... tasked with generating new investment into the Top of The Town and with helping to determine how cash already earmarked for its regeneration should be best spent.'
At the time I questioned his qualifications for doing the job and how much he was going to cost. I guess he cannot have been up to the job after all and now a whole team of experts has been appointed, at heaven knows what extra costs, to transform TTOT. So we have appointed a Project Manager and consultants but when we will see any money spent on significant improvements. I believe all we will see is endless meetings, discussions and consultations and no action, but you can bet Chas and the consultants will still be paid.
In March The Gazette reported, 'Chas Bradfield, 51, has been appointed Basingstoke Town Centre Project Manager by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council........... tasked with generating new investment into the Top of The Town and with helping to determine how cash already earmarked for its regeneration should be best spent.' At the time I questioned his qualifications for doing the job and how much he was going to cost. I guess he cannot have been up to the job after all and now a whole team of experts has been appointed, at heaven knows what extra costs, to transform TTOT. So we have appointed a Project Manager and consultants but when we will see any money spent on significant improvements. I believe all we will see is endless meetings, discussions and consultations and no action, but you can bet Chas and the consultants will still be paid. Sam_Walker123456
  • Score: 2

12:50pm Fri 30 Aug 13

jbee37 says...

I think the Urban Initiatives Studios will need to take a look at Festival place soon judging by the amount of shops closing down. I noticed that they've taken to using 3D false shop fronts just to make the empty units look occupied.
I think the Urban Initiatives Studios will need to take a look at Festival place soon judging by the amount of shops closing down. I noticed that they've taken to using 3D false shop fronts just to make the empty units look occupied. jbee37
  • Score: 2

1:54pm Mon 2 Sep 13

Ronpeploe says...

Don't make the top of town look like festival place or you will rip out what's left of the heart of Basingstoke. I agree that cheaper rents will enable more diverse shops, bars and restaurants to open and maybe bring a much needed cultural area to Basingstoke. An artistic and independent area like the North lanes in Brighton is what is needed to create a vibrant organic feel and counteract the corporate commercial dinosaur of Festival place which is slowly Hemorrhaging shops and replacing them with virtual shop fronts. Consulting with local people (not just shoppers) will inform a good basis for any ation.
Don't make the top of town look like festival place or you will rip out what's left of the heart of Basingstoke. I agree that cheaper rents will enable more diverse shops, bars and restaurants to open and maybe bring a much needed cultural area to Basingstoke. An artistic and independent area like the North lanes in Brighton is what is needed to create a vibrant organic feel and counteract the corporate commercial dinosaur of Festival place which is slowly Hemorrhaging shops and replacing them with virtual shop fronts. Consulting with local people (not just shoppers) will inform a good basis for any ation. Ronpeploe
  • Score: 1

2:20pm Tue 3 Sep 13

Jonty11 says...

I think there needs to be some realism injected here..........

A. The Council only has a few places in the top of town - therefore
1. they wouldn't be able to reduce the cost of rents for all of these premises, its not in their power
2. any work to rejuvenate the looks of these buildings will be at the cost of the public purse but to the benefit of private landowners.

B. The Council does not own Festival Place (so please refer to point 1 and 2 above)
I think there needs to be some realism injected here.......... A. The Council only has a few places in the top of town - therefore 1. they wouldn't be able to reduce the cost of rents for all of these premises, its not in their power 2. any work to rejuvenate the looks of these buildings will be at the cost of the public purse but to the benefit of private landowners. B. The Council does not own Festival Place (so please refer to point 1 and 2 above) Jonty11
  • Score: 0

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