Wednesday, 29 July 2020 15:54

Temporary ban on through traffic in Barnet High Street

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Pavement judged to be too narrow for safe social distancing, especially when school pupils and students are back Pavement judged to be too narrow for safe social distancing, especially when school pupils and students are back
Barnet High Street is to be closed temporarily to all through traffic from the last week of August to ensure there is safe social distancing on the narrow pavement beside the parish church of St John the Baptist.

A final date has yet to be agreed with Transport for London, but Barnet Council anticipates closing the High Street from Monday 24 August.
The aim is to get the closure and diversionary routes up and running before local schools go back in the first week of September and before students return to the nearby Barnet and Southgate College.

Diversionary routes for all traffic, including buses, will operate along Wood Street and then connect to St Albans Road via two one-way routes – via either Stapylton Road or The Avenue and Alston Road.

News of the High Street closure, without advance consultation or notice, has provoked a storm of criticism on social media with subscribers to the Next Door website predicting traffic chaos.

Barnet Council leader Daniel Thomas says the closure is necessary to ensure the safety of local residents and visitors to the town centre during the continuing social distancing required to counter the Covid-19 pandemic.
The closure will extend from 72 High Street, through the narrow section beside the parish church, and continue to 172 High Street and the junction with St Albans Road (taking in another pinch point of the narrow pavement outside the Paper Shop).
Businesses along the High Street will be encouraged to activate outdoor space in front of their premises for trading, by placing tables and chairs in front of shops.

Designated vehicles such as those for waste collection, delivery and street-cleaning will be allowed onto the High Street from 8pm each evening until 8.30am in the morning.
As a result of the closure, Salisbury Road and Union Street will be converted to two-way traffic while retaining spaces for disabled parking. Traffic calming will be introduced throughout the surrounding neighbourhood.
Twelve parking spaces along the High Street – from Boots to Iceland – have already been cordoned off to create a wider pavement.

High Street traders have been informed by letter of the traffic closure and members of the Barnet’s Town Centres Investment team have been visiting premises to inform the occupants.
Businesses seeking more information should email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and traders wishing to take advantage of the outdoor space created by the closure can contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
In his letter, Councillor Thomas promised that additional information on the repercussions of the closure will be made available as soon as possible and in the meantime businesses are encouraged to contact their delivery and waste collection providers to alert them of the restricted entry times.

“To ensure an active High Street throughout the closure, the council will encourage and attract open air market trading and the organisation of community activities, as well as the installation of informal and safe play equipment on the High Street during the temporary road closure.
“These are challenging times for the whole community, but we are confident that the tenacity and strong enterprising spirit of Barnet’s businesses will help us come through this together.”
The Town Centres Team says its staff will be doing all they can to ensure that the High Street remains “lively and active” throughout the closure.

Gary Murphy, licensee of the Mitre public house – which is just before the start of the closed section – feared the closure would make High Street businesses less accessible especially for the elderly and disabled with longer distances to walk from bus stops.
“It could make it more dangerous in the evenings with young people congregating and no security from passing police patrol cars or other vehicles.”

Most of the criticism is directed towards the predicted traffic congestion with warnings that the small roundabout at the Black Horse public house will become a bottle neck for traffic diverted along either Stapylton Road or The Avenue.
Delays and disruption to ambulances travelling along Wood Street to and from Barnet Hospital is another matter of concern, as is the fear that more traffic will use Mays Lane adding to congestion at the road junctions by the Gate public house on Barnet Road.
Some comments refer to the congestion that occurs when the High Street is closed each December for the Barnet’s Sunday Christmas Fair, which already leads to “12 hours of chaos”.

Robin Bishop, chair of the Barnet Society, intends to consult the society’s membership to gauge reaction. He would have preferred weekend trials of the diversion before the full closure.
News of the closure comes hot on the heels of the completion of the widening of High Street pavements from the Post Office to the Spires shopping centre.

 

14 comments

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 29 July 2020 19:58 posted by GMcS

    How exactly does installing play equipment in the High Street help with social distancing?

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 29 July 2020 23:09 posted by Gary Murphy

    This is a disproportionate and damaging proposal by Barnet Council instead of relying upon the common sense of people passing each other on a short and rarely busy stretch of narrow pavement.

    It is being driven by people who want to pedestrianise the High Street for aesthetic reasons, but do not want to go through the normal consultation process and come up with decent proposals for re-routing traffic. Far from protecting people from Covid, it will undoubtedly cause problems for ambulances stuck in the traffic chaos it will create.

    The notion of buses, lorries and cars going two ways through the bottleneck at the Black Horse is ludicrous. The traffic build-up is going to affect everyone living, visiting or just passing through the town. This is the Great North Road, a main arterial route north and south.

    None of the business owners in the town consider that the proposal will help our recovery - indeed, we consider that the traffic chaos will significantly damage trade.

    Please email our MP, Theresa Villiers and Barnet Council to voice concerns.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 30 July 2020 09:00 posted by Michelle Williams

    The Avenue and Stapleton will be one way and high street buses and traffic will be diverted down them? How is this safe for foulds and Christchurch school children and both pre school families too? Too many people don’t stop on The Avenue zebra crossing as it is. Schools want older children to walk to school on their own to aid social distancing at the school gates. This scheme is a crazy idea which has massive consequences for local businesses and families. Utter madness.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 30 July 2020 10:37 posted by Harry Chambers

    This is a ludicrous idea.

    Traffic will rat run down Stapleton and Alston Roads
    .
    My road - Alston Road is effectively a single carriageway due to the large number of resident parking bays so vehicles can only progress in single file. Traffic coming from the M25 will turn left into Alston Rd to avoid the High St, faced immediately with a width restriction - many drivers will not notice or ignore the warning signs and get stuck. A few years back the footpath on Alston Road had posts installed to stop drivers from driving down the pavement on the areas without parking bays.

    I regularly witness road rage due to drivers not giving way to each other. An ever increasing number of home delivery vehicles have no where to park contributing to the traffic chaos and I have photographed FIVE buses stuck outside my house at the same time !

    This is a narrow Victorian Street from the era when goods where delivered by horse and cart and simply not made to cope with the volume and character of modern day traffic and parking.

    As for the permanent pedestrianising of the High Street, we already have an under utilised indoor shopping centre with plenty of open space for markets and community events so no need to pave the High Street. We are witnessing the death of High Street retail primarily due to changing shopping habits - the rise of online shopping, home delivery and out of town superstores. I personally know I can shop cheaper by not using my local stores, but I am prepared to continue spending more money in Barnet to support our local traders.

    It seems that whenever scaffolding appears on the High Street these days it's for the development of new flats above the retail spaces. With the recent relaxation of planning regs how long before the High Street becomes a primarily residential space ? On Alston Road a shop is currently being converted to residential use and I can see this becoming more prevalent as time goes on......

  • Comment Link Thursday, 30 July 2020 10:40 posted by Peter Wanders

    Total madness. I do not agree that this will help our town nor the traders. Gary's comments from the Mitre are all correct. Also now Brake Sheer house demolition is underway, how are all the trucks expected to get in and out and to build all the new flats?

  • Comment Link Thursday, 30 July 2020 12:19 posted by Jane Davis

    Have the powers that be lost all reason? These plans are ludicrous and will cause havoc and even loss of life. Please reconsider these plans!

  • Comment Link Thursday, 30 July 2020 13:19 posted by Chris

    Other than making it completely impossible to get round or through High Barnet at busy times , it really is upsetting for residents of any of the rat run roads suggested as alternative routes to hear about this without council notification. Craven and faceless . What about the knock on effects of parking beyond the centre and Union St of Salisbury Rd? How does putting play equipment in the high street sit with social distancing??

  • Comment Link Thursday, 30 July 2020 13:27 posted by Tony B

    This is unbelievable madness. Or perhaps that should read believable madness, because so many decisions now, on so many issues, appear to made without reference to the real world.

    Coronavirus will be a continuing threat for many months or years, but trying to solve one major problem by creating a number of others is not a sensible way forward. If this plan goes ahead, there will be huge consequences for road congestion, environmental health, emergency vehicles (especially for the hospital), access to services for elderly and less abled people, crime, and the profitability of local businesses. I predict it will be reversed or significantly amended soon after implementation.

    If the aim of this measure genuinely is to widen the pavement next to the church, perhaps a compromise could be to make the High Street temporarily one way. Or perhaps make the pavement one way, with pedestrians also guided down Moxon and Tapster streets to join up with the High Street below the church. I'm sure there are other, more sensible, realistic and cheaper ideas out there.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 30 July 2020 14:42 posted by John and Eileen Roberts ,Ravenscroft Park

    Entirely agree with all your comments and have written to MP Theresa Villiers about this. Everybody needs to get on board objecting about this. They are simply pushing a problem of one small part of pavement around the Church and 100 yards or so from the traffic lights up to Moxon Street and transferring it to the the roundabout at the Blackhorse Pub and making small narrow residential roads part of a trunk route in and out of London. Absolutely idiotic. How long before a major accident especially with the number of children going to our local schools, God forbid.

  • Comment Link Friday, 31 July 2020 09:21 posted by Aurelie Bass

    “Traffic calming will be introduced throughout the surrounding neighbourhood” ( point mentioned by the Council)
    Interesting to hear this point when reading this article on such a ludicrous idea. We have fought for traffic calming measures for years and would love fo hear what they had in mind in the end. Although i do welcome the U-Turn of the Council on closing the High Street, i would like to pursue this point on traffic calming being introduced throughout the neighbourhood. We should be a 20mph area. We have two schools and a lot more little cyclists!

  • Comment Link Friday, 31 July 2020 09:34 posted by Andrew Hutchings

    I'm glad to read that this mad, incomprehensible plan has been ditched, but perhaps the more worrying thing is that Barnet Council employ individuals who even thought this up in the first place! Do any of the staff who dreamed this up drive a car, or ever drive around Barnet town.... Methinks not! A badly thought out plan, ill-conceived and thankfully now in the dustbin of Council planning!

  • Comment Link Friday, 31 July 2020 15:47 posted by Kate

    I received an email last night from Cllr Longstaff saying

    Dear Kate

    Thank you for your email.

    I have written to the staff telling them to reverse the decision, which has been done.

    The staff will look for alternatives at the worst pinch point, which is the section of pavement from St John's heading north on the east side. It is very narrow and can be a pedestrian bottleneck, squeezed between buildings and vehicles; and there is no pavement on the west side.

    Regards,
    Cllr. David Longstaff

    I also received emails from Cllr Prentice and Cllr Teare saying they are totally against it.

    Which does make you wonder how it got through in the first place?

  • Comment Link Friday, 31 July 2020 16:11 posted by A richings

    The worst thing that happened was Barnet high st changing to what it is today. The high street was dying and this change just made it die quicker. So the roads being closed is really just a inconvenience to drivers.

  • Comment Link Monday, 10 August 2020 09:44 posted by Alexander Terry

    If anyone has ever studied pedestrianisation and cycle infrastructure in The Netherlands, you will realised that you are all misinformed. Cycle infrastructure and pedestrianisation, increases footfall.

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