Saturday, 12 December 2015 11:26

Spires £7 million upgrade

Written by
Gail Laser of Love Barnet is shown the plans by James Winpenny, Hunter Real Estate Gail Laser of Love Barnet is shown the plans by James Winpenny, Hunter Real Estate
A two-storey, 24,000-square-foot new fashion store – replacing four existing shop units – will become the centrepiece of a new-look Spires shopping centre if planning permission is obtained from Barnet Council.

Hunter Real Estate, who manage the centre on behalf of the Canadian pension fund that purchased the centre last July, are also planning three new restaurants as part of a £7 million upgrade that will include new landscaping and tree planting.

Future operation and of the car park, and level of charges, is said to be “under consideration”, as is the possibility of re-siting Barnet Market to the bandstand open space in front of Waitrose.

Negotiations are at an “advanced stage” with “a major international fashion brand” that is interested in renting the two-storey new store that would be built in the first courtyard, replacing the empty Clinton Cards store and three other units.

Hunter Real Estate unveiled their plans at a three-day exhibition in the Spires (11-13 December).

The empty Clinton Cards shop, plus three other units alongside it, will be replaced by a two-storey fashion store if planning permission is obtainedForms requesting public reaction to the development proposals have to be returned by December 20.

An application for planning permission will be submitted in January, and if approval is obtained construction work would begin in the spring of next year.

Three new restaurants, to be built in the second courtyard, nearer to Waitrose, should be finished by the end of 2016, and the new fashion store should be ready to open by the summer of 2017.

James Winpenny, an investment manager for Hunter, said their aim was to revitalise the Spires with an improved “retail offer” and longer opening hours, which together with three new restaurants, should help generate a greater buzz, and improve High Barnet’s “night-time economy”.

“We are managing the centre on behalf of the new owners, the Canadian pension fund, the Alberta Investment Management Corporation, that bought the Spires last July for £40million.

“AIMCo take great pride in regeneration investment, especially in schemes which have public benefit, and all our feedback shows that local residents want an improved retail and leisure offer, and we know that major international chains would like to open up in High Barnet if larger shopping units were available.”

When asked whether Barnet Market might be moved, Mr Winpenny said discussions were underway with the operators, Saunders Markets, and one option was to resite the stalls in and around the bandstand in front of Waitrose.

“We will do everything we can to keep the market going, and we are examining how best to keep it as an integral part of the Spires centre.”

Hunter recognised the level of public criticism over high parking charges; and the future operation of the car park, and its impact on trade at Waitrose and within the Spires, was under consideration.

Our priority is to obtain planning permission for the new fashion store, the three new restaurants and improvements to the two courtyards, with new paving and tree planting.

Mr Winpenny said Hunter recognised the value of the rebuilt High Street entrance to the Spires, and the success of Carluccio’s restaurant.

Hunter’s planning advisers, Montague Evans, and architects Leslie Jones, had both worked with the William Pears Group, the previous owners of the Spires, and the aim was to continue with the same high standard of refurbishment.

“We do understand local concern about the need to revitalise the Spires as a shopping centre, and we hope to kick-start that regeneration by attracting a major fashion retailer to open up in High Barnet.”

The Spires currently comprises 37 units, in 90,000 square feet of retail space, anchored by Waitrose.

Follow this link here to see The Spires upgrade plans in detail and provide your feedback


  • Comment Link Saturday, 12 December 2015 16:02 posted by jayne millier

    anything to enhance the Spires would be very welcome. Barnet high street certainly needs some drastic redevelopment to bring it alive again.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 12 December 2015 18:33 posted by Huw Pryce

    The market should remain where it is, and the developers need to come up with the funds to put a wall around the space and throw some sort of roof over it. I doubt it turns much revenue as a parking area, and the market space could be let out to other trading events the remaining five days of the week.

    It is shocking that a thriving market like we had, has been reduced to its current impoverished state by opportunistic landlords clearing the site and leaving it barren for so long. This is one of the oldest businesses in the world, a part of our heritage, and we're letting die in order to generate a windfall of cash to property speculators.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 13 December 2015 17:04 posted by Teresa Rollinshaw

    Concerned about three new restaurants opening in the spires will it not take away the trade from the other new one at the front in the high road starting with C. Or are any of these proposed new ones already in the High Barnet high street now and just being moved to the spires. I thought we already had a very good selection of diverse restaurants already. Sorry to see that the market will be squashed into a much smaller space outside waitrose which means we will not be encouraging any new traders to Barnet like we used to have therefore people will not come to Barnet on the Wednesday's or Saturday's. Barnet is my closest shopping area and once upon a time I always shopped here but refuse to pay the parking as its far too expensive. It's ok to say that there are free spaces around Barnet but you try and find one when you need it. Solution would be to get the Spires management to review their fees to a more realistic affordable amount rather than have the parking places empty like they are at the moment on a daily basis. Or another idea could be if one spent we'll say £20 in a shop they would get free or part of the parking fee refunded by the shop in question.

  • Comment Link Monday, 14 December 2015 10:39 posted by Jacqui Jones

    Where is the on line consultation and plans for this? I would like to view/comment but work full time and was not made aware of plan display until now. 3 day consultation, really?

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 15 December 2015 13:14 posted by Nat Dawbarn

    Blink and you'll miss it (I did). And there doesn't seem to be any information available online. Looks like a pretty half-hearted consultation.

    Still, investment is welcome and the plans seem reasonable. Just a shame that the two courtyards get squeezed and the greener west courtyard will end up as bleak as the other.

    Is there any way of having more greenery and less glass so that the Spires retains at least some of its distinctive character? I know that retailers and shoppers like familiarity, but does every shopping centre have to look the same?

    If this scheme is successful, it's bound to lead to a similar revamp of the opposite sides and the complete transformation of the scale and character of the whole place. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it would be good to know where this is heading.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 16 December 2015 22:26 posted by Marion

    Jacqui Jones - just wanted to share this link that has the photos from the exhibition. It also says feedback can be emailed by the 20th of Dec. I was very lucky to have managed to see the exhibition as it really wasn't on for long!!! Hope others see this link too and submit feedback.

    I like the general plan, hoping for HnM as the fashion shop. I like the benches in the west courtyard to spend a moment, it would be sad not to have this as public space anymore. Also think it's sad Barnet market has been relegated to the Bandstand. Hoping the restaurants will offer a wider choice, maybe Wagamamas, Nandos, Masala Zone, Gourmet Burger Kitchen? Do hope that Coffee Bean's garden area will stay as I love it out there in the Summer.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 17 December 2015 20:20 posted by Krista

    Hate to see all the pubs,small businesses and the market withering in Barnet!
    The Market needs a very prominent spot-that`s why Enfield`s is still doing well-you can`t miss it! Barnet`s is round the corner off the beaten track. How about the middle of the Spires. There`s room for what remains of the Market stalls and if it`s that prominent it`ll grow a bit.
    There are some good ideas here and YES-where`s the consultatation? to suggest our ideas- if 2 heads are better than one then many must be brill! Aah-but the money-makers don`t get it all their way then.That`s why the consultations so unadvertised.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 19 December 2015 17:20 posted by Alex

    I like the fact The Spires has smaller shops, a quaint feel to it and an outside seating area right by the shops. I would hate for it to become even more modernised and like a mini Brent Cross. The village feel is so nice and it would be terribly upsetting to lose this aspect of it.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 19 March 2017 13:02 posted by Elaine Al-Bedri

    I walked into the Spires yesterday and the first thing I noticed was the absence of trees. It was cavernous and without character. I couldn't see any area ear- marked for trees, as paving had already been laid in the main walkway.
    I would not enjoy being in the Spires without he presence of trees and other greenery.
    I really do hope that this is not how the Spires is going to finally look, because it has absolutely no appeal to me.


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