Number 84 in our series of Saturday lists. This one is a list of "might have beens". I was inspired to write this as there was a fantastic public meeting this week at Hartley Hal, where the Mill Hill Neighbourhood forum outlined its plans for Mill Hill. These are ambitious and include a light rail network linking Mill Hill to Finchley, Edgware and Brent Cross. Will this come to fruition? We sincerely hope so. Have a look at the slides - http://millhillforum.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/MHNF-160316v2-tfl.pdf - We hope that it doesn't become number eleven on the list! With your support it won't.
1. The Mill Hill East to Edgware Tube line.
This was planned in the pre war period. Sadly the war put paid to it. The line was in place and the trackbed was there until the mid 1960's, used for freight. Had this link been in place, I believe that Mill Hill Broadway would be a highly important interchange point on the Thameslink, with a far more frequent stopping pattern. The light rail proposals of the MHNF will partially restore this link.
2. Barnet FC at Copthall Stadium.
For many years Barnet FC wanted to move to Copthall. The local council thwarted this and eventually Barnet Fc moved out of the Borough to the Hive in Harrow. Saracens RFC are now the residents and are doing a good job on the site, but I personally believe Barnet FC would be a far better fit (as a side note, the pkanning permission for the stadium should have required Saracens to extend the tube network from Mill Hill East to the stadium).
3. Public lesiure centre at Mill Hill Swimming Pool.
This was championed by many prior to the closure of the pool by the council in the early 1980's. A brilliant plan was pulled together by local groups with a threatre space, a gym and an indoor/outdoor pool. The council flogged off the lease to the Grden centre. The dream was finally completely killed when the site became a free school a couple of years ago. MHNF envisage a partial revivial of some of the ideas with the Daws Lane community hub.
4. Cinema at Athene House in Mill Hill Broadway.
This would have been a reopening. A friend of mine was seriously investigating the scheme in the 1980's, only to be told in no uncertain terms that the Council would reject an application as too disruptive. The site was a cinema in the earlier part of last century.
5. 50 metere olympic standard swimming pool for Copthall swimming club.
Copthall Swimming club is one of countries leading clubs. Sadly it doesn't have an olympic standard pool, therefore the swimmers don't get the chance to train in olympic condititions. At one stage Spurs were using the adjacent Chase Lodge as their training base and looked at making the site a permanent home. One of the strands of this plan was to build a pool for the swimming club. As Barnet council is implacbly anti football, this was dismissed out of hand.
6. A Thameslink Station at the RAF museum in Hendon.
The RAF museum in Hendon is one of the countries greatest museums. The Thameslink line passes next to it. In any other country, this would be a no brainer and it would get a station (especially now the Colindale redevelopment is being built). Of course this is the UK and we make everything as difficult as possible for anyone, so no chance of that then.
7. Public broadcasting of Barnet Council meetings.
In this day and age, it is cheap and simple to broadcast anything on the internet. We are great believers in openness and transparancy, so we can't understand why Barnet Council doesnt set up a few cameras and do live internet broadcasting of Council meetings. Many decisions affetc local people who are housebound disabled and it would give them a chance to participate in the democratic process.
8. Half hour free parking in High Streets.
Many councils allow free parking for 1/2 and hour to help regenerate their High Streets. This allows shoppers to nip out and use these centres to collect small items. It works and is recommended by the Federation of Small Business as part of its High St regeneration strategy. Of course in Barnet, we are not interested in promoting local business.
9. The Mill Hill Scientific centre of excellence.
The National Institue for Medical Research is currently based in Mill Hill, as are several other research facilities. Originally it was intended that Mill Hill would become a scientific hub full of high tech medical and scientific research companies and facilities. Various governments lost the vision and in the late 1990's the Blair government championed a move to Kings Cross, which is currently in progress. Soon all that will remain of that vision is the green roof of the building.
10. The Mill Hill Multi Faith retreat centre.
St Josephs college in Lawrence Street used to be a training college for Roman Catholic Missionaries. As the numbers of young men in Europe wanting to become missionaries dwindled, the need for a seminary declined. Various suggestions were put to the order for using the space. The most exciting was a multi faith residential retreat centre, where people of all creeds and colours could come for spiritual enrichment. This would have provided much needed income and established Mill Hill as a centre of religious tolerance and harmony. Sadly the order decided that they would rather take the cash and flogged the building. It is being turned into luxury flats.
Of course there are plenty of great things in the Borough, but I do think all of these would have made it an even better place.