Monday, 27 August 2018 18:04

Shop closures and conversions changing town centre

Written by Nick Jones
Barnet Antique and Vintage Centre could become a house in multiple occupation offering nine self-contained rooms with two communal kitchens Barnet Antique and Vintage Centre could become a house in multiple occupation offering nine self-contained rooms with two communal kitchens
High Barnet’s struggling High Street shopping centre is facing fresh challenges: another two national chains are pulling out just as plans are announced to convert empty retail premises on the corner with St Albans Road into a house in multiple occupation.

Superdrug closed its High Street outlet in mid-August and customers are being told that Clarks shoe shop, on the corner with Union Street, will close on September 15.

The planning application showing the lay-out of the seven rooms and two communal kitchens on the first floor of the former Barnet Antique and Vintage CentreBarnet Council’s website shows that a planning application has been submitted to convert the former Barnet Antique and Vintage Centre, in Bruce Road – at the junction of High Street and St Albans Road – into a house in multiple occupation containing nine self-contained rooms each ranging in size from 10.4 to 11.8 square metres, and each with their own toilet and shower.

The application by Mornworth Ltd says that the nine rooms all “comfortably exceed” the government’s 2017 standard for multiple occupation rooms of 10 square metres plus space for toilet and shower.

In support of its request to change the use of the building, Mornworth, says that Barnet Homes, operated by Barnet Council, has a waiting list of 85 people aged under the age of 35 who are seeking accommodation of the kind supplied by houses in multiple occupation.

Clarks shoe shop - a favourite for Barnet familiesBecause of the demand for low-rent accommodation, especially across London and the south east, the government introduced the 10-square metre standard for rooms in houses in multiple occupation and eased the rules for the conversion of empty office and retail buildings.

Self-contained accommodation in homes in multiple occupation is expected to contribute nearly 2,000 homes and the government says they will be an important source of “low cost, private sector housing for students, those on low incomes and those seeking temporary accommodation.”

But housing pressure groups are highly critical of the government’s decision to allow developers to provide apartments with such cramped living space and they say people should not be expected to live in an area smaller than the size of a typical bedroom inside a crowded building.

Barnet Antique and Vintage Centre was originally a corn store and warehouse, built between 1877 and 1896, and the planned conversion into a house in multiple occupation extends across the whole of the first floor, but on the ground-floor does not include Dory’s café on the corner of Bruce Road and St Albans Road which is a separate freehold.

Superdrug closed its High Street store in mid-AugustIn its application, Mornworth says that the seven rooms on the first floor would share two communal kitchens, each of 6.5 square metres.

On the ground floor, in addition to another two self-contained rooms, there would be space for two shops and the aim would be to create a harmonious shop frontage that matched the “attractive period shop front” of Dory’s café and made a “positive contribution to the Monken Hadley conservation area.”

Mornworth is described in the application as a local investor in residential rental properties and is owned by Mr Kurt Fritzsch.

Despite the loss of Superdrug and the imminent closure of the long-standing Clarks shoe shop – which has supplied shoes for generations of High Barnet families – there is news of one newcomer.

Harry’s, which describes itself as a traditional butcher and fishmonger, is about to open in the former premises of Butcher’s Hook, which ceased trading in October 2017 and at the time was the last butcher’s shop in Barnet High Street.

Download the Bruce Road Planning Statement and Plans using the link below.


  • Comment Link Tuesday, 28 August 2018 10:53 posted by A

    Isnt Superdrug the owner of savers so it makes sense to shut one of the stores.
    As for Clark’s... well I won’t miss it. A tatty neglected shop staffed by people who clearly didn’t want to be there.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 29 August 2018 13:50 posted by Diane Burstein

    Can’t understand how a reasonably affluent (in some parts very affluent) area like Barnet can have such a downmarket shopping centre. A friend enquired about an empty shop advertised to rent in Barnet High Street. The agent didn’t bother to reply and six months later the shop is still empty now with a smashed window.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 29 August 2018 13:50 posted by Ben Basson

    Most people are shifting towards online shopping for a lot of things, including clothing, including shoes, including toiletries (etc).

    There are some shops that can't be replaced, i.e. butchers, bakery, cheese shop, post office, banks, but they are a handful out of, what, 50+ units.

    There needs to be more of a focus on:
    a) shops that can't easily be usurped by online sales
    b) activities / things to do

    Less of a focus on: coffee shops, charity shops, pizza places (how many can we possibly need?)

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 29 August 2018 13:52 posted by Cláudia Lopes Parkinson

    I'm quite surprised about Clarke's and Superdrug though. Neither are ones you would typically visit online as one sells daily essentials etc and the other offers services like measuring kids shoe size, which I rely on. I do think the number of charity shops is beyond a joke though, we need more clothing shops like H&M for it to become a high street people would come to for a shopping day out from other parts of Barnet. Without them, it will always just be somewhere you pop to, to buy something specifically

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 29 August 2018 13:52 posted by Ben Basson

    I'm more surprised about Superdrug, which always seemed to have customers. I guess the upside is that Boots will now enjoy an even healthier trade with no significant competition (so it's unlikely to go anywhere).

    Clarks is no shocker if you follow UK business news closely, they've been hinting at store closures and struggling with lower profits for a couple of years. I don't think it's so much an indication of our high street as high street trade in general.

  • Comment Link Monday, 17 September 2018 10:21 posted by Vicki Harris

    Ben Basson's comment is spot on.

    The new butcher/fishmonger, Harry's, is wonderful: excellent-quality food with a friendly personal service. He has also expanded the shop by pushing back the rear wall to make space for the fish counter, so it feels less cramped than Butcher's Hook did.

    I hope everyone will patronise Harry's so that it can stay in business.

  • Comment Link Monday, 08 October 2018 02:57 posted by Meg

    Bad customer service is to blame
    Especially the shop maison on the high street with the worst customer service!
    How they are still in operation is shocking

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 22 May 2019 17:36 posted by Nick Saul

    A proposal to convert the building behind and over Dorys cafe into HMO accommodation (small single rooms for rent) has been submitted again, Barnet planning application 19/2590/FUL.

    It is implicit in the application this is intended for young people with high priority on Barnet’s housing list. My thinking that such housing may be a commendable ambition but It is surely a considerable risk for such vulnerable people to be housed in this building. It is in a constricted side street immediately adjacent to the doorway for transient residents of a redeveloped Marketplace.

    While it was always dubious that the proposed Premier Inn motel would ever be built it still seems probable some large scale high density accommodation will appear on the site. As that is the extant planning permission for the old Marketplace surely that should be taken into consideration for new applications in the same area?

    Does anyone else have views on this? The previous application produced 17 comments, all objections. For some reason, perhaps lack of publicity, this application so far only has one comment.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 30 May 2019 13:06 posted by Linda OShea

    You are right there has been no publicity about this I thought that it was objected to last year and that was the end of it, obviously not. I have heard that the Premier Inn are going to start building in June/July this year.


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