Widening the pavement in Barnet High Street

A statement by the Town Team, April 2017. See also the additional list of questions and answers.

WHAT IS PROPOSED?

Barnet Council has tabled proposals to widen the pavement along the west side of the High Street from the Post Office to just beyond The Spires. Details can be found at https://engage.barnet.gov.uk/housing-planning-and-regeneration/high-street-barnet-proposed-pedestrian-improvement/ You should also find the consultation by just googling engage-barnet

WHY?

Many similar schemes have been implemented across London and beyond. Wider pavements improve the shopping experience and benefit local shops and businesses. The key objective is to change the balance from primarily catering for the needs of motorists to addressing the needs of pedestrians. This is particularly pertinent in High Barnet where some 65% of journeys into the town are by foot or public transport. As well as making pedestrian movement easier the benefits include environmental improvements, especially the planting of trees, and encouraging an outdoor restaurant and café culture. Narrowing the pedestrian crossing and removing car parking will improve traffic flow, which in turn will reduce pollution caused by vehicle congestion.

The concept of building out the pavements was approved by the council in 2013 as part of the Chipping Barnet Town Centre Strategy. The Town Team has since worked with the council to develop the scheme and secure funding which is being provided by Transport For London.

WHY NOW?

We have already seen a major improvement to the High St with the rebuilding of the entrance to the Spires. The Spires is now the subject of a bold redevelopment scheme including a new major store. But we are concerned that if the new outlets fail, the consequences for our town centre would be dire. Changes to Church Passage, a Town Team initiative, led to a great improvement on the gloomy tunnel of a few years ago. Meanwhile the central section of the High Street remains unchanged and unloved. Past surveys have identified a high level of resident dissatisfaction with the High St shopping experience. One third of the shops along the section proposed for improvement are charity shops, a testament to the continued decline of what should be our prime retail area. We now need to “grab the moment” by making real changes to the High Street to support The Spires initiative. The prize could be a transformation of the shopping experience in our town centre.

WHY NOT?

There will opposition to the loss of car parking spaces (7 on the High Street, out of 700 in the town centre area). Our assessment of those who park in these spaces is that many of them head for The Spires or elsewhere rather than using the nearby High Street outlets. We confidently expect that the benefits from improving the shopping experience in the High Street will far outweigh the loss of these spaces.

The Council proposals include changes to loading bays including placing some on adjacent side streets. There are reservations with this aspect of the scheme and we will be asking the council to look again at the options for loading bays.

THE TOWN TEAM

The Town Team led by our MP Teresa Villiers and Councillor David Longstaff supports these proposals. The Team includes representatives of the Barnet Society, Barnet Residents Association, SPACES(Sebright,Puller,Alston,Calvert), Love Barnet, Friends of Barnet Market, Churches Together and the disabled community. If you want our High Street to flourish, express your support by e-mailing the Council at traffic.consultations@barnet.gov.uk or write to Traffic & Development, 11th Floor, Barnet House, Whetstone, London N20 0EJ.