If King George III had had to commute into Basingstoke in 2011 these words would not have been far from his lips.
It is no mean feat of mismanagement that Basingstoke and Deane council have managed to transform a fine chunk of Hampshire countryside into one of the most desperately depressing places in Britain.
But it’s not hard to see the mistake they made – a massive suck-up to corporate Britain in the 70s and 80s did indeed attract the likes of Sun Life of Canada,Wintethur and IBM to the chalky slopes of Basing View. Their offices, poorly constructed and built to support corporate hubris now lie deserted, semi demolished or at best occupied by demoralised workers whose office view a series of smashed window from an adjacent ruin. The streets in summer are covered with the dust of pulverised concrete.
Add to that, a council’s slavish adherence to the corporate retail mantra led to the construction of the Anvil and its shopping centre -surely one of the worst places to shop in Europe. An addiction to multi-storey car parks adn 24/7 on-street parking charges rendered the city centre a place of fear for the motorist caught between extortionate parking charges and the fear of fines from the legion of clampers and parking attendants who seem Basingstopke’s sole boom industry.
Then there’s a road ystem that is designed to parade you from industrial estate to industrial estate with the occasional option to visit an out of twon supermarket or one of the hideous theme pubs that stand on the outskirts of toen as a sorry reminder of a time when “local” meant more than “Harvester”.
All that is wrong with British town planning can be found in Basingstoke. No one will be held accountable for every decision was undoubtedly taken for the common weal but bad planning is never good for social behaviour and what Croydon, Tottenham and Birmingham have in common is inner city planning blight.
Despite a rumour of a riot at Toys R Us on Tuesday 9th August, Basingstoke appears to be unscathed by recent riots – depite its 19th century history – read here! Massaganiansism is one thing- what we are seeing on the streets of Britain is another but Basingstoke- don’t be complacent!
- Raymond Brown awarded £1m Basingstoke station contract (rail.co)
- Invensys Rail awarded Salisbury to Exeter Signalling Recontrol contract (rail.co)
- Basingstoke Canal funding e-petition – Another side to the story (surreyheath-residents.co.uk)
- My stay in an NHS hospital cheered me up (telegraph.co.uk)
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Dear Mr Tapper,
Firstly I’d like to ask if you actually live in Basingstoke or indeed ever have lived in Basingstoke. I suspect the answer will be a resounding “no”!
Secondly, I need to correct you on a few errors. One, Winterthur is now owned by Axa and is not in Basing View and instead is in Alencon Link. Having worked for Winterthur for many years in the past I can categorically say that the views from the second floor upwards are a damn sight more interesting than those of Basing View, especially in its current state of repair. To the front you see the Holy Ghost Church (If you care to look up the grusome history of the Holy Ghost churchyard and the woman buried alive you’ll no doubt see there is a fair bit of history). To the rear you can see in to the countryside and beyond (incidently a much better view can be seen from Fanum House – HO of the AA, which if I’m not mistaken is in Basing View).
Basingstoke was originally a Saxon Village and was mentioned in the Domesday book of (1086). The name Basing View was so named as it overlooks Basing which is but a few yards from The AA building, wlaking through the underpath to the ringroad. Basing was the home of Oliver Cromwell for many years and the ruins of his fortress remain to this day where the Sealed Knot perform annually….also a very nice pub of the Basingstoke Canal called Barton’s Mill. (care to take a trip in to odl aprt of Basingstoke and you will find the old town hall at the top of Wote Street and Church Street and you will find the WIllis Museum, where you can read all about it’s history.
As for the comments about Basing View in its current state…well yes, you are quite correct it looks horrendous but then so did every town which was developed in the 70’s and 80’s.
The council leaders of the time, incidently of which my father was one, did an incredible job of building a profitable town with excellent amenities as they could see the potential for a main line to London Waterloo commuter town. The buildings in Basing View have now had their day and as you clearly show in your duplicated (numerous times) photographs they are being demolished. The Rail Station entrance is also being improved. The council are ploughing alot of money in to this town to improve it’s image…..it will look better but it takes time!
The facilities within the town, which has a very young population, are excellent too. Not many towns can boast two cinema’s, iceskating rink, one of the best atheletics clubs in the UK, one of the best local thriving rugby teams and clubs in the south (we won’t mention the football team), bowling alley, bowls centres, best hockey clubs in the area….incidently many of these are due to my fathers efforts…yes he was one of those council leaders you have dissed!
I agree the buildings you are no doubt seeing en route to your desk are probably horrendous but it’s being improved….this will never be Henley on Thames, Winchester, St Albans, Canterbury but it does have history and it does have some very beautiful areas also but i guess you have never been off the A30 or Ringroad or indeed the train to venture or try and see anything other.
Basingstoke isn’t beautiful but it does the job, has very low unemployment, low crime, and is in a fantastic location for everything you could want ie. 1 hour to the beeches of Bournemouth, Dorset etc, less than an hour from London, 10 minutes from beautiful Winchester, five minutes from historic Basing, 15 minutes to Silchester, half an hour to Whitchurch, Overton and the Test river.
So, to sum up, yep what you are seeing isn’t great but then if you remove your blinkers you never know your opinion may be changed….but I guess small minded views such as yours are easy to have as it’s much easier to moan about a place then actually bother to find out what it has going for it as it makes an easy blog!
If you don’t like it then either move or get a job somewhere you do like!
Not impressed Basingstoker!
With more of your kind, your town would be a better place – fantastic response!
Nope- never lived in Basingstoke, live in Brentford where there is a fabulous communicty spirit and a pride in our twon that I most definitely get from Basingstoke- other than you.
Topical subject this morning with the smell of burning in my nostils as I drove through Ealing.
My points about Basingstoke are based on what might have been, Basingstoke should be a staging post between the South Coast and London- it’s a missed opportunity that doesn’t seem to want to learn its lessons.
Sounds as if anyone’s going to sort your town out it’s going to be you- good on you.
Lets see what we are left with after the builders have gone! You never know it may impress us all!
Take a look at this site and you may find it does have a bit a soul….not much but a bit at least!
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Basingstoke’s not that bad. I do wish that they’d attract companies out of London down here. I have to commute to London, which I really dislike and there’s not enough room on the trains or enough trains. There’s decent connections and I do like the shopping mall as it’s got a lot of the chain stores but it would be nice to see some more independent shops too….sure, some of it could be better but they are working on regenerating Basing View now and bringing a John Lewis/Waitrose there. The problem is, there’s not the companies here as they all move in to London and the trains (at least at weekends and peak times) are well over capacity by the time they arrive in Basingstoke.