Emerging Project

Opportunity Cluster: Historic Centre

Idea: Opportunity to support the existing cluster of hospitality businesses alongside civic uses at Chipping Barnet’s Historic Centre to promote the growth of the town’s leisure, culture and evening economy. Crucially this will help diversify and strengthen the town centre’s visitor offer.

This area of the high street acts as its focal point, hosting numerous historic assets. Presently it hosts several cafés, restaurants, and pubs surrounding the majestic St John the Baptist Church, with complementary civic uses such as the Bull Theatre, Barnet Museum and Old Courthouse Grounds/Barnet Park.

Though there is a lot on offer, the public realm is currently vehicle dominated and fails to support these businesses to activate the street. There is an opportunity to improve the public realm by reviewing the area around the junction between the High Street and Wood Street. Identifying areas to widen and green to enhance the setting so that it can better host civic and leisure uses, especially those operating in the hospitality industry.

This area also needs to make more of its open spaces with Church Passage having the opportunity to provide more informal play opportunities for families and to enable restaurants to spill out with seating to activate this area during the evening. The design of College Square also lends itself as a space that could host complimentary activities when the college is closed – from markets (Teenage Market) and outdoor theatre performances/cinema screenings with Tudor Hall as a unique backdrop. The Wood Street entrance and facilities to the Old Courthouse Grounds should also be enhanced to make the most of this important town centre asset, both for day-to-day recreational and play uses, and hosting events and festivals (see separate Play Masterplan project).

Why it is useful:

  • Helps to create a destination that lives up to its historic character, increasing footfall and reasons for visiting Chipping Barnet
  • Promotes leisure and social uses to activate the town centre
  • Promotes the visitor and evening economy
(example sites representative only, subject to availability, condition, costs etc)

Who needs to be involved:

  • Landlords/site owners
  • Council: Lead and engage with potential operators/landowners
  • 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 local organisations
  • Test ideas with local businesses and residents

Viability considerations:

  • Funding: External funding potential from Liveable Neighbourhoods, Department for Transport, GLA. Events: Arts Council and Crowdfunding.
  • Sites: Mix of ownership including Council adopted highways and public realm. It would need to be looked at comprehensively and engage closely with various landowners, business leaseholders and residents.
  • Resource: Would require council officers time and resource

Example: Clapham Old Town

The public realm improvements at Clapham Old Town include new public space and pavement widening with trees, seats, ornamental planting and loading facilities. The Old Town is in the centre of historic Clapham and is at the heart of the conservation area, framed by Georgian and Victorian buildings. The space opens up to Clapham Common to the South with its visual focus being the Holy Trinity Church. The widened public realm now supports the various cafés, restaurants and pubs to accommodate more tables and chairs and creates spaces that enable the community to gather adding to the vibrancy of this local centre. Over 100 new trees were planted in the widened footways and public spaces, complemented with measures to help calm traffic and reduce vehicular dominance.

Example: Arc House within Lowland Park

The council-owned Arc House acts as a backdrop for new activities in Lowlands Park and surrounding public realm. Activities include external dining and events and using the building as a stage set. The ability to host events has provided a revenue opportunity as groups can book the space, and it attracts external companies over the summer. The Tudor Hall could be used in a similar way to activate the College Square and surrounding area. Arc House also has an easy online booking system, which the college square and park could utilise to encourage more activities and uses.