Plans for six-storey flats at The Spires opposed by local MP

BYM Capital says scheme would help “revitalise town centre” and provide up to 300 homes but the Tory MP for Chipping Barnet doesn’t like it, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Plans for The Shires and (inset) Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers
Plans for The Spires and (inset) Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers

Local MP Theresa Villiers says she will “strongly oppose” plans to redevelop Chipping Barnet town centre unless “radical changes” are made.

The Conservative MP has urged BYM Capital to scrap its current plans to build flats up to six storeys high at The Spires Shopping Centre, claiming they could “greatly harm” the town centre.

BYM, which bought The Spires in 2021, says the scheme would help to “revitalise the town centre” and provide up to 300 homes. Other proposed benefits include more green areas and an improved market square.

But Theresa claimed the development would overturn the height limits that have ensured that the tower of Grade 2-listed St John the Baptist Church can be seen from several directions.

She said: “I am afraid I will have to strongly oppose BYM’s plans for The Spires unless there are radical changes.

“When The Spires was built in the 1980s, it followed a very long public debate. It was relatively low-rise and carefully designed, so the scale and appearance reflected the traditional appearance of the town, and was not intrusive.

“These proposals from BYM are very different. They could greatly harm our town centre, which is such a core part of our community here in Barnet.”

The plans, which would involve reducing the number of car parking spaces from 440 to between 100 and 150, underwent an initial round of consultation this month. BYM claims the site is well-served by public transport and there would still be enough spaces to meet demand.

But Theresa claimed the removal of so many parking spaces would be “a disaster for the commercial wellbeing of the town centre”.

The MP also criticised the design of the proposed scheme, claiming many of the small flats would be single-aspect only, with some seeing little or no sun and others at risk of overheating.

She added that some flats would be vulnerable to disturbance from below, while current residents would feel overlooked.

Theresa said: “Many of these problems arise because of the sheer number of flats the developer has tried to squeeze in. I am urging them to think again and scrap these proposals.”

Dean Jordan, head of planning at BYM Capital, said: “The Spires Shopping Centre is underused as a purely retail space and needs to adapt to the changing retail market we face post-Covid, to support local residents’ shopping habits and to ensure its survival.

“Our vision is that The Spires will play an enhanced role in making High Barnet a place where people want to visit, shop and spend time with their family and friends. To do this we need to think creatively about the retail offer, supporting town centre land uses and its function within the wider high street. We will continue to work closely with the council and the local community to bring forward meaningful change.”

Dean said the two public consultation events held earlier this month hosted more than 600 people and were a “great opportunity to present our emerging plans following constructive conversations with residents’ groups, the community, and local businesses”.

He added: “Our proposals are still in the early design stage and we are continuing to review the scheme with reference to the feedback we have received during our consultation so far. We look forward to working with the community and the council closely to ensure we bring forward a successful, deliverable scheme for High Barnet.”

BYM aims to submit the final version of the proposals to Barnet Council during the summer.

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