Policy SPS3: Delivering the Basingstoke Town Centre Masterplan

Open22 Jan, 2024, 10:00am - 4 Mar, 2024, 11:59pm

Policy SPS3: Delivering the Basingstoke Town Centre Masterplan

Development proposals must positively contribute to the vitality and viability of the town centre. This will ensure Basingstoke town centre remains the borough’s principal centre for retail, supported by leisure, employment, community, cultural and residential uses.

Development proposals must support, and not prejudice, the implementation of the Masterplan for Basingstoke Town Centre (December 2022) and be consistent with the following key objectives for future change. The town centre will:

  1. Be highly sustainable, resilient to climate change and embrace innovative ways to improve the environment, in order to address the council’s Climate Emergency declaration.
  2. Be a high-quality and distinctive urban environment that provides inspiring buildings, streets and public spaces and ensures positive experiences for residents and visitors.
  3. Have a sense of place which supports its identity as a north Hampshire town and which is informed, as appropriate, by its historic, cultural and architectural heritage.
  4. Provide for a variety of biodiversity enhancements, with a strong network of green spaces and natural features.
  5. Be a destination for residents and visitors of all ages, with a strong sense of vitality in the daytime and the evening, and support thriving communities.
  6. Be well-connected, with walking, cycling and public transport being the predominant modes of travel into and across the town centre.
  7. Enable innovation and creativity to thrive.
  8. Embraces, promotes, and is connected to local heritage and culture, contributing to the sense of place.

In order to achieve these objectives, planning permission will be granted where development proposals meet the following criteria where they are relevant to the scale and nature of the proposal:

  1. Contribute to the provision of a complementary mix of town centre uses within the Town Centre boundary (as defined by Policy EMP3), with the predominant land uses being retail, leisure (including sport), employment (including office, creative and co-working spaces), community and culture (including arts);
  2. Deliver approximately 400 homes, focused in, but not limited to, the areas of change outlined in Policy SPS4;
  3. Locate retail and leisure uses within the Primary Shopping Area as defined on the Policies Map;
  4. Achieve a high standard of design, which responds positively to the key objectives set out above;
  5. Protect existing, and introduce new green and blue spaces, green links, street trees and other forms of greenery throughout the town centre such as green walls;
  6. Support the creation of new streets at ground level, fronted by buildings and public spaces which are high quality, flexible and adaptable for multiple uses;
  7. Support the provision of high quality public spaces which contribute to a sense of civic pride and provide facilities which meet the needs of all residents and visitors.
  8. Provide or retain active frontages at ground floor level;
  9. Take appropriate opportunities to incorporate residential development, particularly above ground floor level. This should include a mix of different housing types, sizes and tenures, be of a high standard of residential amenity, and have access to supporting infrastructure and private amenity space;
  10. Assist new parking facilities to, include integrated charging for electric vehicles, ensure they are future proofed for new technologies, are enabled to form part of a wider smart energy grid; and make provision for community car services;
  11. Make provision for parking to meet the needs of residents as well as ensuring that the parking requirements of visitors is met in facilities in nearby locations.  Where decked parking can be shown to be required, it should be developed as an independent structure;
  12. Include safe, legible and functional walking and cycling routes to provide improved connectivity across the town centre, and safeguard and improve connections between the Top of Town and the station, between Basing View and the station, and between Basing View and Festival Place. Cycle routes should be well connected to the wider cycle network (in relation to the town and its surroundings), and pedestrian routes should provide safe passage for pushchairs and wheelchairs;
  13. Incorporate new secure and high quality cycle parking for visitors, workers and residents; and
  14. Facilitate the provision of a high quality public transport focussed on the town centre, including safeguarding suitable corridors, interchanges and supporting associated infrastructure.

Ensuring the successful delivery of the town centre strategy is likely to involve various transitional arrangements in order to facilitate the development process. Where these are required, they should ensure that the town centre continues to operate effectively in functional terms, and ensure that any impacts on the character of the area are mitigated successfully and in a proportionate way to the nature of the works in question.

6.15 Basingstoke Town Centre is the primary centre for the Borough. While the role of town centres is increasingly diversifying away from being seen solely as a retail centre, the primacy of the town centre as a high quality and distinctive destination for shopping, leisure, cultural, employment and civic functions remains important. The projected reduction in retail floorspace in the borough over the coming years will be taken as an opportunity to consolidate, but also contract, retail provision in the town centre and introduce a greater diversity of main town centre uses.
6.16 The long-term uncertainty around town centre trends underlines the need to deliver buildings, streets and spaces which are flexible and adaptable. Whilst the town centre will continue to provide significant shopping and leisure space, proposals to redevelop or modify existing retail facilities should be taken as an opportunity to introduce a network of more flexible and adaptable outdoor streets rather than extend or further ‘lock in’ the existing patterns of development. Any changes should be focussed towards the introduction of a more diverse offer, better integrated with the surrounding streets and historic town. 
6.17 Top of the Town is the historic heart of Basingstoke and remains important in the life of the town centre. The retention of retail uses with existing shop fronts is strongly encouraged. Opportunities for workspace, including creative and co-working spaces, cultural and leisure facilities and residential uses will be encouraged in this area.
6.18 Town centre living is regarded as an important component to create a vibrant and attractive place which can sustain a mix of uses. The Policy includes an allocation for approximately 400 homes in the town centre over the Plan period. This is likely to be delivered within the Areas of Change, most notably in the Top of Town and Eastrop areas, but other suitable schemes will be permitted where they support the aims of the Policy. Where housing is proposed, it should have access to suitable supporting infrastructure and include an appropriate mix of dwelling and tenure types to enable a diverse community. Family housing, either as town houses or duplex units, will be expected alongside flats and must benefit from private amenity space such as a garden, terrace or large balcony as well as shared green space.
6.19 Schemes should deliver sufficient levels of parking to meet the needs of residents as well as visitors and, where possible, should also support and enable innovative community car services such as car clubs.
6.20 The conversion of upper floors to provide residential accommodation is encouraged, ideally with independent residential access from the street frontage, with the aim of increasing the town centre residential population and creating positive street frontages which improve safety and connections.
6.21 As part of delivering a more sustainable town centre the approach to the management of parking is expected to change over time, in accordance with the Council’s transport and parking strategies. This will help to protect the ability of the town centre to continue to adapt over time.
6.22 Small scale surface car parks may provide some scope to be consolidated into fewer larger facilities, particularly in the Top of the Town area. This is intended to make them more efficient in operation whilst also providing potential for other land uses to deliver more built capacity and improve street frontage continuity. New parking facilities are expected to include integrated charging facilities for electric vehicles, or other future technologies, enabled to form part of a wider smart energy grid. In accordance with the Council’s transport and parking strategies, it is expected that improvements are made in town centre accessibility by active modes as well as public transport. It is, however, important to recognise the need to continue to access the town by car, particularly by those visitors from rural areas where there may be limited alternatives available. 
6.23 Every opportunity should be sought to increase natural features in the centre, through new and enhanced green spaces, green links, street trees and other forms of greenery such as green walls. Development and public realm projects will play an important role in making the town centre more uplifting and able to support health and well-being. Greening the town centre will enhance biodiversity and mitigate the effects of climate change, and innovative ways to improve the environment and air quality will generally be supported.
6.24 Key routes across the town centre, as shown on the inset map (see Policy SPS4) will be safeguarded. Streets within the town centre will be designed to allow for safe cycle access, providing connections into and through the town for local journeys and will anticipate transport innovations such as e-scooters, cargo-bike deliveries and autonomous deliveries. Developments and public realm projects will be expected to incorporate new cycle parking, for both visitors and residents and will include charging facilities and space for non-standard cycles.
6.25 The policy includes reference to the transitional nature of the evolution of the town centre. A number of temporary arrangements may be required as part of the change process. Such arrangements will need to ensure that the town centre and associated infrastructure continues to be able to operate effectively and that other impacts, such as to the character of the area, are mitigated as much as is practicable.
6.26 The policy will be applied to new development in a manner which is appropriate to its scale. Not all of the requirements will be relevant to small scale development.
Implementation and Monitoring

The policy will be implemented through:

  • The determination of planning applications.

The policy will be monitored by:

  • Consideration of the extent to which proposals meet the objectives of the policy and Masterplan for Basingstoke Town Centre
  • Annual monitoring of the delivery of homes.

Other monitoring of the vitality of the town centre will be undertaken in relation to Policy EMP3.