Pavement widening in the High Street

[Please note that this page is now superseded by the statement by the Town Team and the additional list of questions and answers]

The following message was sent to members on 10 April 2017.

The following statement brings you up-to-date with recent proposals from the Council on widening a section of the pavement along the High Street, and why your Committee believes that the proposals should be supported. We should like to encourage our members to express their support as suggested in the final paragraph below. The Council consultation period comes to an end on 20th April 2017.

WIDENING THE PAVEMENT IN BARNET HIGH STREET

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/

WHY?

Many similar schemes have been implemented across London and beyond. They show that 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 on foot or by 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 crossings and removing car parking will improve traffic flow which in turn will reduce pollution caused by vehicle congestion.

WHY NOW?

We have already seen some improvements in the High Street, in particular at the entrance to the Spires. The Spires is the subject of a bold redevelopment scheme including a brand 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 are those who will oppose 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. We do have reservations with this aspect of the scheme and will be asking the council to look again at the options.

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, the 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.