Monday, 04 June 2018 07:21

A makeover for Chipping Barnet High Street

Written by Robin Bishop
Visualisation looking north from Moxon Street. (The buildings are not the actual ones.) Visualisation looking north from Moxon Street. (The buildings are not the actual ones.)
A three-week public consultation has opened on a new scheme of improvements to the High Street – and it’s vital that residents support this chance-in-a-generation to rejuvenate it.

A description of the proposals, a plan and visualisations of how the street will look are on show in Chipping Barnet Library and soon, we hope, in a shop in The Spires. They’re also posted on the Council website:
But you have only until Thursday 21st June to comment.

Apart from a letter to residents close to the High Street, there’s been no Council publicity for the consultation. It’s disappointing, too, that the Council’s description fails to convey the full value of the proposal, and that information on key design details is lacking.

For a start, it doesn’t mention that the works will be funded mainly by Transport for London, not the Council.

It also omits to mention that the whole initiative came from the Chipping Barnet Town Team, not from the Council. The Town Team – instigated by the Barnet Society nearly ten years ago – has been pressing for years for improvements to our town centre. And the idea of planting a ‘green chain’ of trees from Barnet Hill to Hadley Green came from our Vice President, David Lee, twenty years ago.

So we fully endorse the principle of enhancing pedestrian experience through selectively widening pavements (keeping the existing two lanes of traffic), narrowing pedestrian crossings and planting trees. These will transform the look of the street, reduce the domination of traffic without slowing it down, and enhance air quality.

But the scheme will do much more than that. By providing more set-down/pick-up points, better sign-posting and seating, it will become more accessible and attractive for parents with children, those with disabilities or impairments, and the elderly.

The end result will be a calmer, less cluttered and more pleasurable place for pedestrians and wheelchair-users to shop and linger. It will improve perceptions of Barnet High Street among both locals and strangers passing through – and traders will benefit.

This is not a novel, untested notion. Across London and the UK, schemes like ours have transformed unprepossessing parts of Bromley, Harlesden, Shepherds Bush and Walworth, to name just a few. Members of the Town Team have visited them, been pleasantly surprised, and learnt from them.

In the past, the Council’s lack of interest in Chipping Barnet has been frustrating – in contrast to North Finchley, where it has embraced similar improvements to the public realm.

Much will depend on getting the design details right, and we still hope to influence these. They include planting appropriate tree species in the ground, not in planters. The quantity and distribution of benches, cycle hoops and bins also need to be agreed.

In addition, we want better signage to local facilities and places of historical interest, plus a heritage trail designed in conjunction with Barnet Museum. And we’d like permanent brackets on lamp-posts for banners to commemorate the Battle of Barnet, as Tewkesbury has so successfully done for another Wars of the Roses battle site.

The Barnet Society Committee believes that the overall strategy is right. Working closely with the Chipping Barnet Town Team, Barnet Residents Association and Council Highways, we’ve helped develop a better scheme than the one that caused controversy last year.   We have reservations about important details, but these can still be sorted out.

If we let this chance go, we’re unlikely to get another. We recommend you to support it. Please do so before the deadline!

Submit your comments in one of the three ways below, quoting reference no. BC/000888-01 by 21st June 2018, by:

Emailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Telephoning: 020 8359 3555

Writing to:

The Design Team
London Borough of Barnet
11th Floor
1255 High Road
London N20 0EJ



  • Comment Link Monday, 04 June 2018 15:09 posted by rob

    emailed them in support, this is a great idea. Thanks to the society for the hard work on this.

  • Comment Link Monday, 04 June 2018 15:56 posted by Karin Read

    These are pedestrian improvements and are not designed to rejuvenate Barnet High Street.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 05 June 2018 01:35 posted by Nick d

    While the addition of trees and wider pavements are a good idea, the real way to regenerate the High Street would be to add parking spaces, not take them away. The footfall in the shopping area has reduced due to the point where passing trade has dried up. It passes through. The additional strain on parking from the new hotel at Chipping Close if (when) it gets built will also drive residents away.

    It is no surprise the quality of shops available has declined. They cannot get enough customers to justify the high rents.

    Create parking. Allow 30 minute short stays FREE along the High Street. Allow parking at peak times.

    Build trade up, then you can play with the environment. Otherwise you will be left with lovely wide pavements in front of empty shops, which will provide a nice area for the rough sleepers, so not all bad!

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 05 June 2018 05:45 posted by Derek Epstein

    If I may be permitted to preempt criticism:

    Some will argue that this is a waste of money, that what we really need is better shops - lower rents, lower business rates, free parking.

    Waste of money: These improvements are to be funded by TfL. If the money is not spent here it will not be available for our Council to spend in any other way to our benefit. Rather it will be spent by TfL to improve other town centres.

    Lower rents: Properties along the High Street are in multiple private and corporate ownerships. If anyone believes that, having traced those owners, they will be able to persuade the majority (or any) to reduce their rents, good luck to them.

    Lower business rates: Rateable values are determined by the central government Valuation Office. The Uniform Business Rate applies nationally.

    Free parking: The Barnet Society, Love Barnet and local businesses have sought for many years to persuade the Council to introduce a period of free parking to compete with places like Borehamwood. Gail Laser (Love Barnet and BSoc Vice-chair) writes elsewhere:
    "We have had petitions , been on the radio, on tv, in the press and I’m afraid that is one area that we just can’t sort. The Council will not agree to free High St parking and reluctantly gave us a free hour in Moxon Street, and 2 hours plus all afternoon free along Hadley Green. I’ve cried, I’ve argued, I’ve pleaded for the last six years. It just won’t happen, not in the immediate future. I am so sorry , and now we have to do the best that we can, and this is an offer we must take."

    Given that none of these wish-list suggestions is a reality, let us at least take this opportunity to make our High Street a more attractive place for people to visit. And, you never know, it may even attract a few better shops!

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 05 June 2018 13:22 posted by Anna

    Just one small observation - "Introduction of cycle stands to promote sustainable transport" has to be a joke! Barnet is definitely NOT a cycling-friendly place (shame on Barnet Council).

    Other than that, anything to improve Barnet High Street is very welcome - perhaps other changes for the better will follow, who knows.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 05 June 2018 14:09 posted by Derek Epstein

    Nick d,
    There are several hundred parking spaces in Chipping Barnet town centre
    The loss of (I think) seven spaces is hardly likely to make any fundamental difference.
    It's true that some guests of the hotel might not park in the reserved spaces in The Spires carpark, but what they most probably will do is significantly boost High Street trade.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 05 June 2018 15:07 posted by Richard Gardham

    "It's true that some guests of the hotel might not park in the reserved spaces in The Spires carpark, but what they most probably will do is significantly boost High Street trade."

    And were the hell will the rest of us park when they fill up all the street spaces?

    On the matter of this project, has anything been resolved regarding the deliveries disturbing the people living down Union Street? Without that, it won't get my support.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 05 June 2018 19:49 posted by Andy

    Surely a more attractive high street will bring more shoppers. A huge benefit at the cost of a few parking spaces. What a no-brainer!

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 05 June 2018 20:10 posted by Rachael

    Although I say take TFL's money, I deplore the hypocrisy of the Barnet Society.
    "widening pavements..., planting trees." This, "will transform the look of the street, reduce the domination of traffic without slowing it down, and enhance air quality."

    Meanwhile they support a hotel one street back on Chipping Close, that could add more than 100 to 160 cars a day into the mix, causing air pollution, noise pollution, traffic congestion and a parking nightmare for local residents and would be shoppers.

    Barnet Society plan to influence the desgin,"They include planting appropriate tree species in the ground, not in planters"

    Meanwhile they support the felling of over 10 trees for the hotel plan, which will add no landscape to the area at all. Wait sorry Barnet Society reccommend that the hotel should have window boxes! Given the build is merely over 10m away it will plunge a once bright street in the conservation area to below standard levels of light, good luck in keeping anything alive.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 07 June 2018 09:44 posted by Michael Young

    The 'visualisation' is a little light on representing real traffic situations. It will be worse when the road is narrowed - as appears here.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 07 June 2018 19:01 posted by Derek E

    "Traffic ... will be worse when the road is narrowed."

  • Comment Link Monday, 11 June 2018 23:30 posted by Tony B

    This is a great plan, and it will transform the high street. 100% support.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 31 October 2019 14:24 posted by Yasmin

    Instead of doing this money should be well spend into the education system and nurserys that are on the brink of shut down due to low government funding! Our high street is perfect for us!


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published
All comments are moderated so there is a delay before you see them on the site
The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Barnet Society