Parking in High Barnet

Prior to 2013 the council parking provision was very rigid with the same charges and permitted stay periods exactly the same everywhere except the centre of the High St. The result was that prime locations in Moxon St and Stapylton Rd car parks and the High St north of St Albans Rd were almost completely full of commuters with, amazingly, only the 22 bays in the centre of the High St guaranteed to be available for shoppers. Fitzjohn Avenue car park was largely ignored by both shoppers and commuters, being rarely more than 20% full. The saviour for shoppers was The Spires car park which charged a nominal 20p an hour and soaked up the demand, so there was little pressure for council policies to change. What continually distinguished High Barnet centre was the absence of any free parking, when most other centres within around 20 mins driving distance had at least some free parking and often a substantial amount.

Disaster followed when the council increased charges and withdrew cash machines at the same time as The Spires started to substantially increase charges. There was a significant downturn in the well-being of the High St demonstrating the potentially disastrous impact on a town when parking is inadequately managed.

Including in the Chipping Barnet Town Centre Strategy, adopted in June 2013, was a commitment to review parking and this was duly done. BRA suggested certain principles which were accepted leading to;

Removal of commuters from the prime central parking areas by limiting the maximum stay period – Moxon St and the top end of the High St were duly reduced to a 4 hour limit.

Compensating commuters by designating Fitzjohn Avenue as long stay with the cheapest all day charge in town.

Having variable charges reflecting the level of demand at each location, resulting in short-term charges in Moxon St and Stapleton Rd being cheaper than along the High St. This approach was further extended some months later by introducing free time in Moxon St and along Hadley Green.

BRA estimated that well over 100 spaces were liberated for short-term parking

Where are we now?

Currently all the council parking is cheaper than the privately owned and run Spires car park, and for some years now has been consistently full. In The Spires, where prices have been ratcheted up annually for several years now it remains far from full, though occupancy has improved.

Are further changes needed?

For The Spires, a rethink to achieve full occupancy would be welcome, though alas this is not yet appear to be evident to those in control. For council parking we consider that a more subtle approach could improve the goal of increasing shopper parking and thus hopefully attracting more shoppers, whilst also continuing to cater for commuters working in the town.

  1. Stapylton Rd still allows all day parking and is largely full of commuters (except Saturdays). Reduce this to four hours maximum and a lot more shoppers could then park there. Also consider one hour free as in Moxon St.
  2. Some commuters are still using Moxon St and the top end of the High St by paying for four hours by phone and then renewing for four hours, though we do not know the true extent. This practice could be discouraged by either upping the charge after three hours or stipulating no return after four hours.
  3. If more of the central parking is made short-term only, consideration should be given to allowing commuters to park at competitive rates in what are currently residents only on-street bays on the periphery of the town centre that remain empty all day. These can be found in considerable numbers in Hillside Gardens, East View and around Ravenscroft Park.

Gordon Massey

Barnet Residents Association

Updated November 2020