Spires Redevelopment Plans June 2012

Barnet Residents Association Annual General Meeting 26 June 2012

[Note: The Spires shopping centre has been sold to a new owner since this presentation, and these plans have been adandoned.]

Presentation By Phillip Hulme of Savills on Spires redevelopment plans

After briefly addressing the current problems of vacancies, with mention of expected new arrivals including a card shop, bridal shop and beauty salon Mr Hulme turned to plans for redevelopment.

Major difficulties with the Spires were said to be:

  • Retail units too small to attract major retailers
  • The frontage to the High Street is essentially the secondary entrance and undersells the centre
  • The car park is inadequate
  • The interior presentation is dated with a jumble of architectural styles

The running-down of the adjacent market by the previous owner was also mentioned as a contributing factor to the loss of appeal.

To inject new life into The Spires and surrounding area a major investment programme is about to start which envisages:

1. Opening-up the High Street entrance to make access easier (planning permission given)

2. Adaptations which will create a two storey unit at the High Street end incorporating the former Smith's outlet and the former gym upstairs (planning permission given) with work expected to start early next year. We were previously led to believe that a tenant had been secured for this outlet but this now appears not to be the case

3. A revamp of the market costing £250,000 keeping it on the existing site (planning application imminent) with intention to complete as soon as possible

4. A revamp of the car park costing £600,000, with a new operator taking over in October (no information on charges)

5. A complete rebuild along the east side of the first courtyard in from the High Street to create a two storey single outlet that will extend backwards into what is now the Waitrose service area. A major fashion-led retailer has been signed-up for this . Planning application anticipated later this year with opening aimed for March 2014

6. A rebuild of the west side of the first courtyard, extending backwards to Salisbury Rd over the current Fern Rooms site, to create a single two storey outlet similar in size to the above. At this stage outline plan only, but there is a commitment to rehouse Barnet Old People's Welfare

7. Extending Waitrose forward onto the bandstand site and rearwards to include most of the east side of the second courtyard. Negotiations in progress but nothing definite.

8. Creation of a walkway with additional shops from the rear of Waitrose to the market. Very much at the conceptual stage

9. A revamp of the pedestrian areas including new flooring (probably York stone throughout).

It will of course take many years to realise this vision and what finally emerges may be somewhat different to current thinking. It is however very encouraging that the owners of The Spires, UBS Bank, have demonstrated with these ambitious plans that they do have a long-term commitment to High Barnet as a viable shopping centre.

Gordon Massey

Chairman, Barnet Residents Association