Emerging Project

Opportunity Cluster: Nesbitts Alley

Idea: Opportunity to support the development of the existing cluster of hospitality businesses and unique character of Nesbitt’s Alley 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.

There is an opportunity to make more of the unique and charming character of buildings set in Nesbitt’s Alley and strengthen the link between the high street and residents accessing from Hadley Ridge into the town centre. The previous large Bentley showroom and The Statons unit are both currently available. There is an opportunity to open up these buildings to make a charming courtyard cluster that supports the growth of the existing leisure and evening economy created by the Savoro Restaurant and Hotel. There is the opportunity to activate these vacant spaces with community/leisure/workspace uses and look to widen the public realm to help create a pocket of activity off the main high street. Any development should look to deliver this project idea’s aims for active ground floors, pubic realm improvements and support enhanced pedestrian routes.

Another opportunity is around improving access and potential use of the green pocket space adjacent to Grove Court. This green asset has the potential to support the high street better and increase the time people spend in this area. The recently opened Huddle Café is a significant asset to help activate this overlooked green asset.

There is potential in the future through the Army Reserve opportunity site identified within the Local Plan for a similar opportunity to be explored around Nursery Row adjacent to this site. Key to this will be the activation of the vacant unit previously used as a Bentley Garage that marks the entrance to Nursery Row.

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 the character across distinctive destinations, strengthening Chipping Barnet’s overall identity
(example sites representative only, subject to availability, condition, costs etc)

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 existing and potential businesses and operators
  • Test ideas with local businesses and residents

Viability considerations:

  • Funding: Buildings fit out: funded through new tenants/operator. Public realm: Crowd funding/ S106/CIL
  • Sites: Predominantly privately owned therefore requires the engagement of landlords/ site owner. Some of the vacant units would be subject to a Planning Application and a Change of Use.
  • Resource: Would require council and community time to kick-start idea and identify funding. The vacant unit strategy could be used to physically promote ideas for these locations, with the potential of meanwhile / pop-up versions.

Example: Norwich Lanes

Norwich has made the most of its back alleys and lanes – creating picturesque courtyards and vibrant alleyways used for seating, planting, external dining and even events. Such as the pocket park outside Grade I listed St Gregory’s Church, designed to provide areas to rest and socialise with restaurants and cafes opening up onto the space with tables, chairs and simple landscaping. Curating clusters of distinctive architecture and independent businesses has made the Norwich Lanes a popular and unique destination for visitors and residents. As could happen at Nesbitt’s Alley, neighbouring properties and enterprises are able to utilise the street and public realm, and also actively improve the space with planting, keeping it clean and improving security..