Idea: Opportunity to support the development of existing clusters of businesses/organisations to promote growth of the town’s leisure, culture and evening economy
Currently, there is a cluster of restaurants and a pub located adjacent to Hadley Green. There is an opportunity to make more of this leisure offer, to create a more active entrance through strengthening the relationship of the high street to the various users of Hadley Green.
The MOT/car wash garage offers a key high street site; its welcoming architectural form acts as a critical gateway to the town centre. There is the potential to enhance this gateway and explore an opportunity to integrate the idea for a new Visitor Centre with cafe/restaurant to strengthen the leisure offer in this area further. Any project should look to enhance the connection between Hadley Green and the town centre through extending the public realm to form a more direct relationship between the town centre and the green. Key to this will also be improving play opportunities through making more of the duck pond and open space.
This Visitor Centre idea could combine with the potential for the town centre to host a Rambling and Cycle Hub. That could consist of a shop to buy locally made souvenirs and active gear, a bicycle repair workshop and rental, secure bike parking and space to host an active lifestyle programme and local events. Such a facility could help attract the various leisure road cyclists who pass through the town centre, particularly at the weekend. Longer-term, such a hub could also act as the final milestone for the proposed strategic cycle route along the A1000 corridor (as identified in the Barnet Long Term Transport Strategy).
Why it is useful:
- Help to create destinations, increasing footfall and reasons for visiting Chipping Barnet
- Promotes wider uses of the town centre
- Promotes the visitor and evening economy
- Helps strengthen this area as a key gateway into the town centre and better integrates the green asset of Hadley Green into the town centre
Who needs to be involved:
- Landlords/site owners
- Council: Promote ideas/Engage with potential developers/operators
- Town Team: Support
- 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 operators
- Test ideas with local businesses and residents
- Funding: Potentially Heritage Lottery Funding or Community Lottery Fund
- Sites: Predominantly privately owned therefore requires the engagement of landlords/site owner. Some locations and buildings would be subject to a Planning Application and a Change of Use.
- Resource: Would require council and community time to kick-start idea, but as there is potential revenue for site owners and businesses, they should progress.
Example: Upper Eden Visitor Centre
The Upper Eden Visitor Centre is a community-run enterprise based in Kirkby Stephen. The organisation redeveloped the former tourist information centre into a community hub and visitor centre. Staffed by a manager supported by local volunteers, they offer advice on walks, attractions, travel information, local accommodation providers, computer use, and supply Disability Rights UK National Key Scheme Keys (keys for accessible toilets). They put local suppliers at the heart of what they do, stocking a selection of locally produced products. Complimenting the Visitor Centre, the building also hosts Coast to Coast Cycles, a cycle hire and repair business with a community focus running local cycle meet ups and events.
Example: Tea House Theatre & Vauxhall Spring Gardens
A former Victorian pub converted into a tea house, creating a new and vibrant cultural hub at Vauxhall Spring Gardens, the site of the famous Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. In addition to refreshments, the space caters for art exhibitions, theatre, live music and event hire. Functioning as a visitor’s destination for the park, the widened public realm hosts external seating and connects the tea room to the surrounding greenspace and playarea. The park also hosts other activities that activate the space and encourage visitors, including free bike maintenance sessions at the park entrance three times a month.
This project was part of a more strategic strategy that looked to integrate a network of quiet way cycle infrastructure, linking Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea and the South Bank. The public realm strategy aims to bring delight, identity, visual coherence, and greening to this under-appreciated but historically very vibrant area.
Example: Pedal a Bike Away
Pedal a Bike Away at the Forest of Dean combines bike rentals, cafe, bike shop, workspace and coaching. Designed to cater for cyclist’s needs (as well as runners and walkers too) for example, includes extensive bike parking, external seating, a kiosk offering quick refreshment, special ‘social’ pizza nights and toilet facilities. The cycle hub services the extensive mountain bike and family trails. These trails are carefully curated around the centre, with clear and informative signage. The forest is managed by Forestry England, whilst Pedal a Bike Away is a private company.