Wednesday, 19 April 2017 13:13

High Street - proposed improvements

Written by Robin Bishop
The High Street looking north The High Street looking north

The Barnet Society supports the general intention of the latest Council proposals. We and the Town Team have striven for years to revive the High Street area, economically, environmentally and visually, and to complete the ‘green chain’ of trees from Barnet Hill to Hadley Green.

Selective pavement build-outs, sustainable new trees and some upgrading of pedestrian realm would do much to assist this.

The Society’s Committee has become aware, however, that certain details of the latest plan do not seem to have the support of the majority our members, or possibly the general public.

We greatly regret that the Council consultation has not been widely advertised, properly presented or exhibited to everyone in or around Chipping Barnet who stands to benefit from the proposal.

Public explanation of its key features might have mollified residents’ and traders’ doubts, and reassured them that limited resources would be spent to optimal effect.

As things stand, though, we must record reservations about the necessity or effectiveness of aspects of the proposals:

1.    Complete continuity of pavement build-out along the west side of the High Street is not essential. We note the Town Team’s recommendation that Barnet Council should “look again” at the option of moving loading bays to adjacent streets. We agree: loading bays should be in the High Street, not side streets. Some parking spaces for very short-term shoppers would also be desirable.

2.    The build-outs should be primarily to widen footways for pedestrian convenience and safety and trees, not urban infrastructure like advertising boards or (except in the most favourable locations) seating.

3.    The wider pavement spaces, e.g. in front of KFC and Boots, should be investigated for additional trees, whether in the ground or in containers. A Council survey a few years ago showed little available space between buried utilities, but this should be re-examined.

4.    Trees should be planted directly into the ground. Containers should only be used as a last resort, because they would require watering and ongoing maintenance that the Council may not be able to provide in future. Any containers must be of robust enough design to resist natural deterioration over decades, vandalism and vehicle impact, and enable them to be moved if necessary.

5.    The choice of tree species is critical. We have the expertise to offer advice, and would be pleased to do so (subject to agreed budget, timing and process).

6.    Some build-out space could be designated shared ‘off-street’ parking space (as in the earlier option dated 21/04/2016), allowing pedestrian use when not occupied by very short-term parking, e.g. outside the Post Office and immediately north of Union Street.

7.    It might be advisable to erect well designed bollards on build-outs for safety purposes.

8.    The relative widths of build-outs and carriageway should be reconsidered, especially where larger vehicles turn from Salisbury Road into the High Street.

9.    Cyclist safety is an important issue. The present High Street layout provides flexibility for evasive manoeuvres by both cyclists and motorists, but the current proposal would reduce this. It could also encourage cyclists onto the pavement, to the detriment of pedestrians.

10.    The balance between short and longer-term parking tariffs and payment methods in the centre is worth re-examining to encourage displaced motorists to park away from the High Street. Current regeneration of The Spires and the new H&M store makes this timely.

We would also like:

  • A clearer decision-making process to be agreed and properly publicised.
  • Information on the timescale for developing the design and specification and carrying out the works.
  • Consultation on other key details of the designs, e.g. paving and street furniture – early enough for discussion to take place without jeopardising the programme.


  • Comment Link Thursday, 20 April 2017 09:01 posted by Gill Burke

    As a Union Street resident I was appauled by the proposal to move the loading bays from the high street to the side streets i.e. Union Street. and Salisbury Road. Why would anyone think this is a good idea? Both streets are already under increased pressure now due to the new turning restrictions in front of Barnet Church plus the increased charges to park in the Spires. Adding a loading bay at the high street ends of these roads will only serve to add to the chaos that already regularly occurs due to parked cars and vans. The pavements at the high street end of Union Street are suffering already because drivers often mount them to get past obstructions.

    I completely agree the High Street needs a bit of TLC as it currently looks very shabby and unkempt. However this is not going to be improved by changing the pavements or planting trees. The problem is the lack of shops! The high street has very little to attract the shopper. Barnet should not just be about The Spires.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 25 April 2017 11:32 posted by Jacqui

    Was this a consultation? I have never know a consultation like this. Where are the on line comments and plans? Never known a consultation where I just email someone. Also it would seem my comments have not been recognised apart from cyclists, but then it was not about their own lane but about pedestrian safety?!
    interested to hear more about the decision making process agreed, in plenty of time to have some involvement.

  • Comment Link Friday, 26 May 2017 18:38 posted by Liam mcgeady

    Consultation? What consultation? This is the first I've heard of it.
    Fwiw I vote wider pavements with the odd tree. Short term free parking, like in potters bar. Rents for shops are clearly too high, hence all the charity shops. Still, I'm sure the council has better things to do than listen to barnet residents - so whatever....


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