Idea: Opportunity to support the development of a Civic & Market Quarter to Stapylton Road and the Spires to promote the growth of the town’s retail, leisure, culture and evening economy. Crucially this will help diversify and strengthen the town centre’s visitor offer.
The library is the centre of a current civic cluster that includes the market at the rear of the Spires, adjacent Wesley Hall, bus terminus, and an underutilised pocket green space. Currently, the buildings facing onto this space have large blank facades and inactive frontages, especially at night, which makes this key entrance feel unwelcoming and unsafe. There is potential to strengthen this cluster with other uses and public realm improvements, so it performs as a gateway for those travelling to the town centre via bus and residents walking in from High Barnet. Incorporating the approved hotel development on Chipping Close and adjacent Spires, there is a significant opportunity to create a cluster of leisure, retail, and evening economy, with new public spaces and routes to Staplyton Road.
There is an opportunity to make more of the underutilised green space next to the market square to widen the public realm outside the Spires to support larger Markets to be hosted. The community should work with The Spires management team to utilise vacant units, surface car parks and precinct to host meanwhile uses and events, and longer-term attract new complementary civic and leisure uses. Some examples include a cinema, indoor Market Food Hall and/or community workspace. Any proposals for this area should demonstrate how it will support activities to ensure this space is active into the evening.
Any future redevelopment of the Spires to be employment-led, incorporating retail, workspace, civic and leisure functions alongside any housing. To support a diverse retail offer, including local and independent businesses, and growing the market. Opportunity to locate community services so they have a High Street frontage, make the market more prominent and strengthen the route to Stapylton Road. (Chipping Barnet Town Centre Strategy (2013) identified site). It is important that the Council consider complementary planning policy, including providing an update to the Spires Planning Framework 2012 to reflect the principles, priorities and ideas raised throughout this plan to ensure any development considers both the current community priorities and priorities supporting the town centre to diversify its offer and thrive.
Why it is useful:
- Help to create destinations, increasing footfall and reasons for visiting Chipping Barnet
- Promotes wider uses of the town centre
- Helps strengthen the connection between the main high street and Stapylton Road
- Promotes the visitor and evening economy
- Helps strengthen the character across distinctive destinations, strengthening Chipping Barnet’s overall identity
Who needs to be involved:
- Landlords/site owners
- Council: Promote ideas/Engage with landowners, spires management and potential operators
- Town Team: Support/Propose ideas
- Existing businesses
- Potential businesses/organisations
How to get started:
- Engage with Planners about the potential of sites and uses, and explore any Planning implications
- Engage with landlords/landowners
- Test feasibility with potential businesses, operators and organisations
- Test ideas with local businesses and residents
- Funding: MHCLG/Council/Landowner partnership
- Sites: Mix of land ownership including the council, and it would need to be looked at comprehensively. Potentially through a partnership between the council and the Spires.
- Resource: Would require council, the Spires and community time to kick-start ideas.
Example: Radcliffe Market Hall
Radcliffe Market Hall is an example of the type of project that could utilise any vacant units and inner precinct at the Spires, and combine complementary civic and leisure uses. The market hall features a traditional market open four days a week, monthly speciality markets and a night time dine-in street food market. It also serves as a venue for community activities, performance and arts events. The market hall has assumed the role of a community hub, offering space for groups to meet and a weekly schedule of activities, ranging from Tai-chi and tea dances to children’s crafts and open mic nights to encourage new musical and comedic talent. By becoming a ‘destination’ place, it serves an essential function in bringing people into the town centre, both from the local area and the wider region. Its success has had an impact on people’s views of what can be done in the town centre, especially in the evening. It is managed and operated by the Radcliffe Market Hall Community Benefit Society.
Example: Catford Mew
Ran by the Really Local Group, Catford Mews is a new, small independent cinema that reuses a former Poundland within a shopping centre that has struggled to fill vacant units. Designed to embrace the area’s rich and vibrant culture it includes a three-screen cinema along with a live performance space, a pop-up food market with local vendors, a coffee shop, bar and community spaces for local makers and artists. Beyond a traditional cinema, these wider collaborations have helped diversify reasons to visit and use the facility. The venue aims to support local businesses to develop a creative community that works, creates and performs together all under one roof, and reaches out to local audiences through affordable performance and learning.
Example: Gillett Square
Gillett Square is an interesting precedent for the potential of new public space to the rear of the Spires. A former car park has been transformed into programmed public space that hosts activities and events from markets to performances, a weekly pop-up playground to trading and dining space. One side of the Square is bordered by small permanent market pods, housing a mix of food and other services. Other surrounding neighbours included a jazz venue, retail space, studios and workspace.
Hackney Co-operative Developments, a local community economic development agency, leads the partnership that manages the use of the Square – offering a Creative Producer role, holding the Permanent Entertainment License and looking after the Square’s equipment. The Square is designed and managed both as an open space for recreation, and hosting cultural programming and business trading.