Improving the “health and wellbeing” of high streets is regarded by the planners as one the steps that can be taken to strengthen the identity and diversification of town centres.
The draft plan for 2019-2030 is currently out for public consultation and the council says its aim is to deliver “an improved mix of town centre uses” and to do more to promote and celebrate their individual characteristics.
Robin Bishop, Chair of the Barnet Society, welcomed the strategy and the council’s commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of shoppers and visitors.
This had been one of the motives of the Chipping Barnet Town Team in its campaign to persuade the council to widen the pavements in the High Street and encourage tree planting.
As well as building out the pavements, there will be a new drainage system, improved footways at the Union Street and Salisbury Road junctions and upgraded pedestrian traffic signals at the crossings by the Post Office and Spires’ entrance.
Construction work in the High Street is due to last about three months as the pavement widening is being done in stages in order to reduce disruption.
In welcoming the council’s aim to expand the “leisure offer and evening economy” of town centres by enhancing the range and quality of local food and drink, heritage and culture, Mr Bishop said the most obvious priority for Chipping Barnet was to build on the success of the Barnet Medieval Festival and other events and attractions celebrating the 1471 Battle of Barnet.
“The aim should be to grow the visitor economy by encouraging, supporting and promoting the hospitality sector to deliver a great experience for visitors as well as residents.”
...a good proportion of affordable workspace
Another key to the regeneration of the town centre was to encourage creative businesses by ensuring “a good proportion of affordable workspace”.
Protecting and benefiting from Barnet’s green assets – the fields and woods that surround the town on three sides – was also seen as a key objective.
The draft strategy calls for a masterplan for managing Green Belt land within the borough and one proposal was for action to establish the Upper Dollis Brook as a “conservation-minded leisure destination” with improved access to open spaces, perhaps from Hendon Wood Lane.
A priority for the next decade would be to explore Chipping Barnet’s delivery of new housing in ways which built on the “heritage and character” of the town.
The council intended to work with Transport for London to shape developments around High Barnet tube station – an indication that the council seemed committed to high-density housing in the station car park and storage yards.
Read the growth strategy in full at www.engage.barnet.gov.uk/growth-strategy
A public consultation session is to be held at Chipping Barnet Library from 3pm to 7pm on Thursday 5 September.