Monday, 01 February 2021 16:36

Projects for Barnet town centre: which five to choose? Featured

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The Council is consulting on a Community Plan to help regenerate the High Street area. This is your chance to have a say. The Barnet Society offers some guidance.

Last month a public consultation was launched online here. We have until Friday 19 February to respond. Our web post on 11 January gives you an introduction to the Plan.

The Barnet Society has formed a group of Committee and other members with special interest in and knowledge of the town to decide which five projects the Society should support. We’ve had some initial thoughts, and would like to know what you think of them.

It isn’t easy: all of the 31 ideas offered by the Council’s consultants, a team of design and business consultants led by Architecture 00, are interesting, and some are imaginative and exciting. But it’s vital that the chosen projects have (1) a realistic prospect of raising funding or making a decent return on investment, and (2) commitment from groups or individuals to participate in the feasibility studies that will go ahead over coming months, and to championing them thereafter. Without those two, there’s no point in pursuing them.

It’s also important that a good variety of projects is selected, for two reasons. One is to represent the broad range of people with a stake in the success of the Community Plan. The other is that future funding could come with very different aims or criteria, and we need to spread our net as widely as possible.

With this in mind, we’ve agreed five priorities: something old, something new, something for children, something for young people and something green. Below is our shortlist of projects under each heading. (Note that, in practice, some ideas could fall under more one heading.)

Something old

Barnet’s identity is founded on its distinctive history and building heritage. We must do something to draw the attention of more residents and potential visitors and investors to our existing assets.

Projects worth considering:
• Routes & Riches Wayfinding (but is also covered in Something green below)
• Barnet Museum
• Opportunity Cluster: Historic Centre (but is also covered in Something green below)

Something new

Economic regeneration of the town centre has got to be a major priority. Whether it’s the revival of retail or attracting new business, without new stimulus nothing else will save it.

Projects worth considering:
• Collective Branding & Identity
• Town Centre Website/App (NB https://lovebarnet.co.uk/ has made a start on this)
• Vacant Unit Marketing
• Markets Strategy
• High Street Incubator
• Events Programme
• Activating the Public Realm
• Co-working Space
• Activated Courtyards

Something for children

The town centre must become more child-friendly. Only if families have reasons to go there that appeal to their children, not just to their parents’ need to work or shop – and if they can get there safely and enjoyably – will it become important in their lives.

Projects worth considering:
• Play Masterplan
• Walking & Cycling Quiet Routes
• Safer Road Junctions (although this applies to all ages)
• Family hub

Something for young people

Our teenagers and young adults have been among the greatest casualties of Covid-19. The Plan must offer them something, whether work experience or youth-focused leisure attractions.

Projects worth considering:
• The Bull Theatre
• Teenage Makers

Something green

Barnet already has great natural resources, and the last year has made people aware as never before of what we stand to lose with climate change and bad building development. Surely this is the moment to invest more in green initiatives.

Projects worth considering:
• Routes & Riches Wayfinding (but is also covered in Something old above)
• Rewilding
• Community Energy Company
• Opportunity Cluster: Historic Centre (but is also covered in Something old above)
• Opportunity Cluster: Civic & Market
• Opportunity Cluster: Hadley Green

The Society would like to hear how you rate these ideas. If you’re a member, we’ve already written to you, so email us at the address in the letter. If you aren’t a member, please contact us via the comment box below – and consider joining us!

The final selection of projects will be made by the Council in consultation with the Chipping Barnet Town Team (on which the Society is represented). But it will be influenced by the volume of public responses and the strength of arguments submitted online. So, as well as responding to this web post, it’s very Important for you to vote online yourself. But there’s no need to rush. We’ll be posting more detailed articles on the Society’s preferred choices over the next ten days, so please watch this space…

6 comments

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 02 February 2021 09:19 posted by Helen howson

    There should also be a project for the elderly.. They also are the ones suffering in silence..Many of their day centres have been axed by council and they are the loneliest of all the people who are isolated.. There must be means to open up their clubs and day centres when this lockdown finishes as they have given so much to our society in the past, went through world wars for us to survive so they must be considered...

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  • Comment Link Tuesday, 02 February 2021 10:06 posted by Keith Martin

    These comments supplement your own:
    1 Something New
    Events programme
    Liaise with Barnet Borough Arts Council and their magazine Barnet Arts.

    2 Something for young people
    Projects worth considering
    add Chipping Barnet branch library. Liaise with the culture minister Oliver Dowden and CILIP, to implement the Libraries Act 1964 nationally, including the Chancellor Rishi Sunak's promise to "do what it takes" to return Chipping Barnet Library to providing the comprehensive services which it used to do, before austerity policies for ten years and then lockdown caused Barnet Council to abandon their statutory duty to provide these comprehensive services.
    This is more than " a project worth considering." It is the statutory duty under the 1964 Act of both Barnet Council and of the culture minister.

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  • Comment Link Tuesday, 02 February 2021 11:32 posted by Pauline Brown

    Routes -wayfinding.
    Bull theatre
    Expansion of market
    Spires areas - now just acres of concrete where previously it had 'courtyards' with trees and flowers. - pleasant places for a meal or a coffee.
    A 'ville fleurie' competition. I have seen small villages where every shop has just a couple of hydrangeas outside. Shops to take pride in their presentation.

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  • Comment Link Tuesday, 02 February 2021 13:57 posted by Debbie Kirby

    I had hoped to make some useful comments but as most of the terms used convey nothing meaningful it is difficult to make a choice. There is no explanation what a 'cluster' would involve or a High Street 'incubator' or an 'activated courtyard' and so on. Is there anymore information on these projects available, for example where you would rewild, how much would a family hub cost, is there any budget allocated, what time scale is envisaged?
    All High Streets will need major alterations after covid. Is the government going to offer help & advice? Shopping habits will have changed drastically. Will some retail properties be repurposed as housing? Can the High Street be broken up to provide green spaces & views & better airflow?
    I am sure there is a great need for low cost activities for families in a safe environment. A selection of small individual eateries around a communal picnic/ restaurant area might be welcome for family groups.

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  • Comment Link Wednesday, 03 February 2021 17:55 posted by David Paul

    Dear Mr Bishop,
    I think the Barnet Society category choices are good. From you list I would choose for Something Old: Opportunity Cluster: Historic Centre or Barnet Museum. For Something New: High Street incubator. Something for Children: Play Masterplan or Family Hub. Something for young people: Teenage Makers. and finally Something green: Rewilding.
    I will also send my choices to Barnet Council Community Plan.

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  • Comment Link Friday, 12 February 2021 09:32 posted by Irene Nichols

    Community Energy Company: would improve sustainability and also provide training and employment opportunities. I think this would be great.

    Barnet Museum has a team of volunteers, provides leaflets about local history, runs children's activities, goes into care homes with memory boxes With more support, even more possibilities

    Certainly something for teenagers. Teen Makers sounds good.

    Activated Courtyards: Public space for events, markets, picnics and music, would liven up the town and be very good for families.

    . Wayfinding: so that we are more aware of what there is and how to get there.

    Last but not least,I think the 'ville fleurie' idea is excellent - cheap to implement-and cheerful

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