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 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…