Friday, 28 February 2020

Barclays Bank in Mill Hill Broadway to close

Letter received this morning
This morning I received news that my local branch of Barclays Bank in Mill Hill Broadway is to close on ,June 5th. Barclays was the last of the big four banks to maintain a presence in Mill Hill. This presents a major issue for us. The Mill Hill Music Festival switched its account from Lloyds to Barclays when the Lloyds branch closed. When the Mill Hill Music Festival is running, a local bank is essential for the purposes of paying in and out money. We also use the bank regularly for foreign exchange and other money related matters. I am quite frankly astounded that Barclays have taken this action. The branch is always busy and there is regularly a queue when carrying out banking transactions.

There is a myth that bank branches are not used, old fashioned and out of date. If like me you run a business and community events that deal in cash, a bank is essential. Barclays have been supportive of the Mill Hill Music Festival with donations, needless to say this will all now stop. We understand that banks are commercial entities and that they have to manage their finances. As a business, we have had to change the way we operate and we have had to diversify etc. For my business, a music studio, this has been done by trying to make ourselves more responsive and reactive to our customers and providing a better service. For Barclays and the other banks, the opposite seems to be true. Their response to every cost challenge is to cut services and make the lives of their customers more difficult. I seriously wonder whether a bank that bucked the trend, opened new outlets on High Streets (or downsized outlets combining with other businesses to share premises) would be a very attractive option. Barclays is probably the oldest business on Mill Hill Broadway and their departure is yet another nail in the coffin of the Broadway as a successful High Street. Closed down banks has become a feature of the Broadway over the last few years, and of all the sites, Barclays is the best located, being in the triangle between the East bound bus stop, the Station and Marks and Spencers. It would undoubtedly make a fine bar or restaurant location, but where would any new business pay their cash takings in. Keeping cash on premises is dangerous, and a trip to Edgware, Hendon or Kingsbury (the suggested other locations) would take a staff member (or two for safety if paying in large cash amounts) an hour a day + parking charges. Assuming two staff at £10 per hour six days a week, that is £120 a week or £6,000 a year extra cost just to pay in daily cash takings. I don't know many businesses that can carry that cost, and that is without mileage and parking.

Barnet Council needs to get creative. Surely we need joint planning categories. A bar/cafe/bank venue (with a smaller banking counter) may well be a way forward. Whatever happens, June 5th will be a very sad day for Mill Hill and its businesses.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Local News Round Up - 27/2/2020

Thursday is the day that we round up the local news. Here is our pick of the local stories.

Barnet Council

Barnet Council think you are throwing too many spuds away and are here to help.  As is our tradition, we are offering a free pot noodle for the best recipe for cooking potatoes. We have a wicked recipe for Patatas Bravas when we have friends around for a Tapas evening!


Here is the location and date/time


 School Borough Workshop date Workshop time

Christ Church Primary School, Byng Road, Barnet EN5 4NS
Barnet Monday 9 March 15:45-16:45
Rhyl Primary School, Rhyl St, Kentish Town, London NW5 3HB Camden Tuesday 5 March 09:00-10:00
St Anne’s Secondary School* 6 Oakthorpe Road, Palmers Green, London, N13 5TY Enfield Monday 23 March 16:00-17:00
Orchard Primary School, Holcroft Road, London, E9 7BB Hackney Tuesday 24 March 15:45-16:45
North Haringey Primary School, Falkland Rd, Haringey, London N8 0NU Haringey Thursday 26 March 15:45-16:45
Thornhill Primary, Thornhill Rd, Barnsbury, London N1 1HX Islington Thursday 12 March 15.30-16:30
Buxton Primary School, 234 Cann Hall Rd, Leytonstone, London E11 3NN Waltham Forest Wednesday 18 March 15:30-16:30

Recipes

Do you need some inspiration to save your forgotten spuds and combat food waste? We have a delicious selection of potato-based recipes to share with you.
Also check out the North London Food Lovers Cookbook, which offers many ideas for you to make the most of your leftovers! The Food Lovers Cookbook can be downloaded for FREE.

You also need to be aware of the changes to Green Bin Collection.


Other News


Ever fancied presenting a radio show? Here's your chance


Massive development scheme in Burnt Oak unveiled


Public Consultation on East Barnet Gasworks site



.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

The worlds most baffling pub quiz

I have spent far too much time this week reading papers from Barnet Council, so I thought that as it's humpday Wednesday, we could have some light relief.  Do the quiz, write dowm what you think the answer is and check at the end. Feel free to tweet or comment your score!


Here is the worlds most baffling pub quiz.  If ever you need to do a pub quiz, why not set these questions.

1. In what month was the famous Russian October Revolution?

Click here for the answer

2. What is the common name of the bird classically named Puffinus Puffinus

Click here for the answer

3. On what Tube line is the most Southerly station on the Underground

Click here for the answer

4. From which famous UK musician do US Punk Rock band The Ramones take their name?

Click here for the answer

5.  What fruit would you get from a Prunus Serrulata tree?

Click here for the answer

6. What sort of vehicle was the designated by British Rail as a Class 99 vehicle on their TOPS tracking system for locomotives?

Click here for the answer

7. What religion was Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria?

Click here for the Answer

8. From what country did Soviet Wartime Leader Joseph Stalin originate

Click here for the answer

9. What is the most likely colour of hair of someone nicknamed blue by an Australian?

Click here for the answer

10. Where was the original "Mill Hill" railway station in London?

Click here for the answer

And two bonus questions

Which member of the Beatles played drums on this track and what is the relation to another question on this quiz?



Click here for the answer

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Barnet Council Draft Local Plan Analysis - 3 - Mill Hill - No plan and no vision

Last week we started our analysis of the Draft Barnet Council Local Plan.  The full details of the consultation are on the Barnet Council website. We urge you to get involved and read this. This document will shape the way our community develops over the next 16 years.

https://engage.barnet.gov.uk/Draft-Local-Plan-Consultation

Today we have a look at plans for Mill Hill. The plan states that Mill East is one of the areas earmarked for intensive development. Sectoin 4.18 details this

We attended a meeting at Barnet Council offices last night, which I found rather disappointing. I believe the council needs to get its act together with such consultations, prepare proper handouts for residents and give questionairres etc to be filled in and handed in at the end.

I have passed the comments below on to the council. If you feel as strongly as I do, Please email the council at forward.planning@barnet.gov.uk to make your views known.

Mill Hill East

Mill Hill East was identified in the 2004 London Plan as an area of intensification. Such areas were defined as typically built-up areas with good public transport access which can support redevelopment at higher densities but at lower levels than areas such as Brent Cross and Colindale.

Mill Hill East comprises 40 hectares of former RAF barracks and a former Council depot. Following a planning consent in 2011 to provide 2,240 new homes, a new 3-form entry primary school, local shops, a district energy centre and six hectares of parks and open spaces, the area is being transformed to become a high quality sustainable development. Within the context of a green suburban location it is providing new homes and business opportunities with high quality community facilities, transport and access to open space, and provides an example of good suburban growth.

A planning framework for Mill Hill East has been established with the Area Action Plan adopted in 2009. With development also underway at the former National Institute of Medical Research other development opportunities have emerged around the Mill Hill East AAP area including Watchtower House, IBSA House and Mill Hill East station. Careful consideration of development within the Mill Hill Conservation Area and Green Belt will be required. These three sites are identified in the Schedule of Proposals at Annex 1.

Significant progress has been achieved at Mill Hill East, with delivery of 600 new homes, a new primary school, new public spaces, improved road junctions, and an extended bus route. 


POLICY GSS07 Mill Hill East
Millbrook Park is making progress as an example of good suburban growth. The implementation of the 2011 planning consent following the adoption of the Mill Hill Area Action Plan in 2009 has already delivered 600 new homes, with the expectation of a further 1,645 units to be completed.
Within the wider area around Mill Hill East there is capacity to deliver 1,400 additional new homes.
The Council will positively consider proposals on suitable sites to deliver further good suburban growth, including at Mill Hill East Station, Watchtower House and IBSA House, which together could deliver around 745 new homes.
Any development proposal must consider the Mill Hill Conservation Area and Green Belt designations.

 
Alternative Option
To continue to rely on the Mill Hill East Area Action Plan (AAP) alt- hough already forming part of Barnet’s Local Plan and been very successful in guiding development within Mill Hill East, this AAP was adopted in 2010 and is therefore now significantly out of date. Many of the proposals included in the AAP have been completed and consequently a new policy is now re- quired to provide the planning framework to guide future developments in Mill Hill East.
To not include a strategic policy for Mill Hill East - this would forego an opportunity to continue to provide policy support to significant regeneration benefits including new homes and jobs in Mill Hill East. Since the adoption of the Mill Hill East AAP as a comprehensive framework for good growth in 2009 development at Millbrook Park has transformed the area and this transfor- mation is set to continue throughout the lifetime of the new plan. If a policy was not included the plan this could result in an increase in scheme costs and delays in implementation.
 As you can see, there is significant extra growth planned for the Ridgeway. As the Watchtower society are moving away, there is a huge works site ripe for development, adding another 745 homes to the existing plans for Millbrook Park. With boundary changes, much of these will cease to be part of Mill Hill ward. 

Lets have a look in more detail


Site No. 33
Site Address:
Bunns Lane Carpark (Mill Hill Town Centre)
Bunns Lane, Mill Hill, NW7 2AA
Site Map
Location Map
Site Size: 0.33 ha PTAL 2019: 4
PTAL projected 2031: 5 Ward: Hale
Existing or most recent site use/s: carpark (adjacent to Mill Hill station)
Ownership: Council
Proposed use type/s: mixed use development comprising hotel, re-provision of car parking and 50% residential.
Indicative residential capacity: 43
Location type: Urban
Site source: Council assets disposal programme
January 2020
289
Preferred Approach
Applicable Draft Local Plan policies: GSS01, GSS08, GSS12, HOU01, HOU02, CDH01, CDH02, CDH03, CDH07, TOW01, TOW02, CHW02,ECY03, ECC02, TRC01, TRC02, TRC03
Development timeframe: 5-10 years
Site description:
Comprising the car park (184 spaces) for Mill Hill Broadway Station, the site is immediately adjacent to the Midland Main Railway on the eastern boundary, with the raised M1 carriageway immediately beyond. Mill Hill Broadway town centre is immediately to the east to the east. To the west is low-rise housing.
Initial planning considerations:
While the site is highly accessible and close to local services, any development must fully assess and mitigate the air and noise pollution caused by the proximity to the raised motorway and mainline railway. Proposals must take into account existing residential areas to the west and south, including concern over potential overspill car parking. Site characteristics, including connectivity, offer the potential for visitor accommodation, such as a hotel. Public car parking provision should also be assessed and retained as required.

Barnet Eye comment:

At the meeting with Barnet Council last night, many residents from Langley Park, NW7 attended. There were numerous concerns about the effects of loss of parking provision on local roads, given the commuting patterns from Mill Hill Broadway. Mill Hill Broadway and The Thameslink rail service are popular sites. Barnet council admitted that the car park is now viewed as ancillary to the Station rather than as a necessary support for parking for the shops at Mill Hill. Any resident living close to Mill Hill will recognise that there is woefully inadequate parking provision for existing residents and any loss of parking in an already established area is likely to cause additional problems for residents. 

The logic for a hotel on the site seems deeply flawed. The idea was mooted along the lines that it would bring people to Mill Hill, wishing to use the Thameslink connections to London and also to bring trade to the High Street. It seems to me unlikely that people using the hotel to visit central London will add much to the Mill Hill economy, although the unskilled jobs supporting the hotel will add opportunities for teenagers and migrant workers. There is already a very large hotel in Mill Hill at Scratchwoods Service Station. Our preference would be to better integrate this into Mill Hill. At present this cannot be easily accessed by Mill Hill Residents. We would prefer to see the access road opened up, with the restrictions for access to the M1 as a ratrun, moved elsewhere, so residents with visiting relatives can use the hotel easily. 




Site No. 46
Site Address:
IBSA House
(Mill Hill East Growth Area)
The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, NW7 1RN
Site Map
Location Map
Site Size: 2.08 ha
PTAL 2019: 1B
PTAL projected 2031: 1B Ward: Mill Hill
Existing or most recent site use/s: office / light industrial / storage and distribution
Ownership: Private
Proposed use type/s: residential-led with 20% B1 uses
Indicative residential capacity: 125
Location type: Suburban
Site source: Call for sites
January 2020
307
Preferred Approach
Applicable Draft Local Plan policies: GSS01, GSS07, HOU01, HOU02, CDH01, CDH02, CDH03, CDH07, CHW02, ECY01, ECY02, ECY03, ECC05, TRC01, TRC03
Development timeframe: 6-10 years
Site description:
The site contains the print works and offices for International Bible Students Association within a modern 5-storeys building on the Finchley Ridge. The site is adjacent to residential areas of the Millbrook Park development. To the north of the site is Green Belt, with the designation overlapping part of the site alongside Partingdale Lane.
Initial planning considerations:
Proposals must be of appropriate scale and design that responds to the context. There should be delivery of high quality residential-led mixed used development comprising a range of housing types and tenures, including family homes. B1 uses should be provided to support economic growth and employment through provision of workspace for small and medium sized enterprises. Proposals must ensure development does not negatively affect the small area of Green Belt at the north of the site.

Barnet Eye Comment. 

Whilst it seems that there is a missed opportunity for a more mixed development on a large site, removing employment opportunities. Any develpment must have cast iron protections for the Green Belt and not compromise the local wildlife during the development.  The timescale for this seems to be rather far fetched, given the vacation date of IBSA.

 
Site No. 47
Site Address:
Mill Hill East Station
(Mill Hill East Growth Area)
Bittacy Hill, Mill Hill, NW7 1BS airspace above and land adjoining station
Site Map
Location Map

Site Size: 1.24 ha PTAL 2019: 3
PTAL projected 2031: 3 Ward: Mill Hill
Existing or most recent site use/s: railway station, platforms and lines, with public car parking and unused bordering land
Ownership: Public (non-Council)
Proposed use type/s: residential with 40% mixed uses (retained rail infrastructure, car parking).
Indicative residential capacity: 127
Location type: Urban
Site source: Call for sites
Applicable Draft Local Plan policies: GSS01, GSS07, GSS12, HOU01, HOU02, CDH01, CDH02, CDH03, CDH07, CHW02, ECC06, TRC01, TRC02, TRC03
Development timeframe: 11-15 years
Site description:
The site includes Mill Hill East Station building, platform and tracks, along with the public car park (42 spaces) and overgrown adjacent strip of land. The large, partially completed Mill Brook Park development is across Bittacy Hill road to the north east of the site. To the north is low-density two- storey housing, while to the south is a supermarket and gym surrounded by large areas of surface car parking.
Initial planning considerations:
The varied surroundings to the site mean that the design must be sensitive in terms intensification; for example, the southern boundary towards the supermarket provides greater scope for building height than towards the low-rise housing to the west. Preservation of mature trees required. The station building and associated platforms and tracks must be retained and/ or re-provided. An assessment of public car parking requirements must be undertaken and re-provided as required.

Barnet Eye comment. 

Any development of the station site must ensure that there is no limitation on the future provision of a two track layout for the station and an extension to the Saracens/Copthall site. This trackbed must be protected.



Site No: 48
Site Address:
Mill Hill Library
(Mill Hill Town Centre)
Hartley Avenue, NW7 2HX
Site Map
Location map
Site Size: 0.17 ha PTAL (2019): 4
PTAL projected 2031: 4 Ward: Mill Hill
Existing or most recent site use/s: public library and associated car parking
Ownership: Council
Proposed use type/s: Residential 50% with community uses
Indicative residential capacity: 19
Location type: Urban
Site source: Council assets disposal programme
Applicable Draft Local Plan policies: GSS01, GSS08, HOU01, HOU02, CDH01, CDH02, CDH08, TOW01, TOW02, CHW01, CHW02, TRC01, TRC02
Development timeframe: 6-10 years
Site description:
Mill Hill Library is a single storey Neo-Georgian building in red brick with stone portico and slate tiled roof which was built in 1937. The building has been nominated for the Local Heritage List.
The curtilage includes a border of landscaping, along with an access road to a rear car park.
Opposite lies the fire station built in a similar civic style. To the west of the site is a car park while to the east is a three-storey officer building. The location is close to Mill Hill district centre and lies close to the A1 arterial road. Mill Hill station is within approximately 500m.

Preferred Approach
Planning considerations:
The library is community infrastructure and must be re-provided either on site or at a suitable alternative location.
Due to the proposed Local Heritage listing, proposals should retain the existing building and sensitivity integrate new uses or additional buildings.
Good accessibility to the Mill Hill district centre and transport links will help to support new uses on this site.

Barnet Eye Comment.

Any redevelopment of the Library/hub space must ensure that there is no loss of provision at any time, given the integral role of the library for young people and elderly residents. The architectural importance of the site should also be recognised.

 
Site No. 49
Site Address:
Watchtower House & Kingdom Hall
(Mill Hill East Growth Area)
The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, NW7 1RS/ 1RL
Site Map
Location map
Site Size: 7.31 ha
PTAL 2019: 1B
PTAL projected 2031: 1B Ward: Mill Hill
Existing or most recent site use/s: sui generis religious community; Major Developed Site in the Green Belt UDP 2006
Ownership: Private
Proposed use type/s: residential with 50% retained as undeveloped Green Belt and 10% community uses
Indicative residential capacity: 219
Location type: Suburban
Site source: Call for sites
Initial planning considerations:
The public footpath traversing the site must be retained.
Preferred Approach
Applicable Draft Local Plan policies: GSS01, GSS07, HOU01, HOU02, CDH01, CDH02, CDH03, CDH07, CHW02, ECC05, ECC06, TRC01, TRC03
Development timeframe: 11-15 years
Site description:
A large site with extensive open spaces within designated Green Belt and the Mill Hill Conservation Area, previously classified as a Major Development Site within the Green Belt. There is a broad west/ east split, with the eastern half of the site containing a sprawling complex, largely over three storeys, which provides 85 self-contained residential units and ancillary services for staff of the International Bible Students Association (IBSA), at nearby IBSA House. There are also extensive gardens and car parking. The western half of the site comprises a Kingdom Hall with a large, open field. The site has numerous mature trees and is subject to an Area Tree Preservation Order. A public footpath bisects the site north-south. The land falls sharply from north to south, providing good views towards London. Suburban roads of semi-detached housing surround the site to the south, east and west, with The Ridgeway to the north.
The quantum and design of redevelopment are significantly constrained by numerous factors,
including the low level of public transport access, the suburban semi-rural character, the Green Belt
and Conservation Area status, the very prominent position at the top of the ridge, and trees subject
to TPOs

Barnet Eye Comment. 

Whilst it seems that there is a missed opportunity for a more mixed development on a large site, removing employment opportunities. Any develpment must have cast iron protections for the Green Belt and not compromise the local wildlife during the development.  The timescale for this seems to be rather far fetched, given the vacation date of IBSA. There are important local wildlife considerations such as Barn Owls on the adjacent fields. These must be protected both from development and from disturbance during development. 

------------------------------
That is all of the main references to the plan. However, we believe  that there is much missing from the plan in regards to Mill Hill.  We would have expected to see the following.

1. Mill Hill Broadway Station. We believe that the plan should not just address the Bunns Lane Car park, but for the whole station. There are significant air quality issues at the station. This is in part due to the fact that it is in a dip, there is poor air circulation, buses idling spewing out diesel fumes and the M1 passing above. Our suggestion would be a complete reworking of the layout of the station. If the main office, primary exit and bus station was moved to the Bunns Lane Car Park, this would remove a pollution hot spot and allow for a more sympathetic development of the station undercroft.  If buses terminating at Mill Hill stopped at Bunns Lane, this would remove the issue of idling engines causing pollution in a confined area. It would also improve accessibility for disabled people. 

2. Mill Hill Broadway. We believe that the Broadway needs a degree of improvement and regeneration. The council should actively be working to bring a cinema back to Mill Hill and create a more business friendly environment. 

3. There should be a stronger recognition of Mill Hill's important sport and music sites, such as Saracens, Powerleague and Mill Hill Music Complex. These sites should be a focus of proper planning to get young people involved in music and sport. 

4. National Grid Powerstation on Partingdale Lane. The recent planning application for a gas fired power station on this site identifies the need for recognition of the site in the plan and proper protection for the adjacent Green Belt.

5. Mill Hill School. The school is the major landowner in Mill Hill. It is also a large employer and contributes to much traffic on the Ridgeway. This should also be recognised in the plan with protections for the heritage buildings and improvements to parking arrangements.

6. We have saved our biggest criticism until the end. The local plan has no plan for Mill Hill as a community. It is simply a hotch potch collection of policies for a bunch of disparate schemes. There is no real attempt to take a holistic view or improve the quality of life for Mill Hill Residents. 


Monday, 24 February 2020

Environment Monday - Barnet Council Draft transport strategy - No vision at all for 2040

Barnet Council have released their draft transport strategy that will drive the Borough to 2040 (forgive the pun).

Lets start with the positives. The fact that there is any attempt to frame a long term transport strategy is a significant move forward for Barnet, which previously preferred to simply bury their corporate heads in the sand. The report effectively suns up the main problem

"Barnet has high car use for an outer London borough, particularly in the north of the borough. Barnet has the second highest car ownership levels per household in London: almost double the level of neighbouring Haringey. These cars are overwhelmingly petrol or diesel: despite the number of electric cars doubling in the past two years, in late 2018 only 1% of all cars registered in the borough were electric. Almost a third of Barnet households do not have access to a car Journey distances in Barnet do not mean that travel by car is an inevitable choice: two thirds of car journeys in the borough are under 5km and a quarter of car trips begin and end in the borough.
Furthermore, all seven main Barnet town centres have a PTAL rating above 4, meaning they are easily accessible by public transport. Although radial journeys are much easier than orbital travel. TfL also estimate that there are almost half a million journeys per day in Barnet that could be converted from motorised transport to walking and cycling, after excluding journeys that are too long, part of a chain (such as from home to the shops to school) or involving carrying heavy shopping or equipment. The key barriers to walking and cycling are environments dominated by fast flowing traffic, lack of cycling infrastructure and fears over safety."
This identifies correctly that car usage is high and lack of decent cycling and walking infrastructure is a problem.

Air quality.

The report identifies appalling air quality issues. For a Borough with so much green belt, this is especially disturbing

"Within Barnet, emissions from traffic have the most severe and pervasive impact on air quality justifying making the whole Borough an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). Air quality in some areas of Barnet breaches legal limits, particularly at major junctions in the Borough where there is a higher traffic flow and a high number of stationary vehicles. Pollution levels are higher along arterial routes, particularly the North Circular, M1, A1 and A5; PM2.5 concentrations are shown in Figure 2.4. Modelled data relating to 2016 (released by TfL in July 2019) shows that twelve schools in Barnet breached legal air quality limits.[1]"

[1] 2016 London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (2019) supplied by the GLA
The plan details planned improvements, such as the new Thameslink Station at Brent Cross West, the proposed West London Orbital railway (from Hendon, Cricklewood and West Hampstead to the HS 2 interchange at Old Oak Common), Crossrail 2 to New Southgate and a few smaller schemes, such as step free access for Burnt Oak. There are objectives for changing the type of fuel used by cars, sadly this is where we start to see that the report has been written by people who don't really understand their brief. I was amazed to see that the second objective for changing fuel type is as follows.


·       Objective 2. Changing fuel type on its own will have little impact on congestion or available routes.


This is clearly not an objective. The fact that this is included demonstrates that the document has not been written or peer reviewed by experts before being released. In fact of the five objectives, only the first is a genuinbe objective for change.  I simply cannot understand how such unprofessional mistakes were made.

Walking

The Strategy states


Vision

Walking should be the natural mode for short journeys in Barnet, enabled by an attractive public realm, increased safety and air quality improvements, as well as clear and legible signage and wayfinding and well maintained footways.


This is of course sensible. The report identifies three key areas for improvement


Strategy in Barnet

Walking in Barnet will focus on three types of trips: trips to school; shopping and leisure trips to town centres; and trips to transport hubs.
Trips to school will be targeted because air quality issues are particularly acute around some of Barnet’s schools and there is potential to embed sustainable travel patterns in residents at a young age.
Shopping and leisure trips are also a key focus: over half of all potentially walkable trips are for shopping and leisure purposes. Hence, proposals should focus on improving the pedestrian environment of Barnet’s town centres.
Commuting patterns in Barnet do not offer much whole journey potential for walking; however, the stage from home to station does. 62% of Barnet residents live within 1200m (approximate 15-minute walk at average speed) of an Underground station. Areas around Barnet’s transport hubs will therefore be targeted with measures designed to increase walking.



These are all sensible, however there is a seeming blindness to many of the root causes of problems. Making proximity to schools a primary selection criteria, would make a huge difference. This is not addressed at all in the strategy. Having local schools for local pupils is clearly the best way to get them to walk to school. Sadly the parental obsession with school league tables is what fuels the drop off with a car culture. 


On the subject of signage, there is a bizarre (to my mind comment) bearing in mind that this is a strategy for 2040. It states




·       The Council will continue to work with TfL to increase the number of Legible London signs in the borough and support their introduction in Cricklewood.



Why on earth is Cricklewood the only area of the Borough to be targetted for legible street signage for 2040? Surely by 2040, every area of the Borough should be targetted? This is clearly a tactical fix for a present problem, presumably included to demonstrate a particular councillor in a marginal ward is actually doing some work?



I had to laugh at the next comment



Alternatives / Consequences of inaction

·       An illegible environment might deter people from walking and cycling, but also from using public transport.

If I was making a spoof document to take the mickey out of the council, I could not have done a better job. This adds to the impression that this is a badly researched and put together report.


Another demonstration that this is not a strategy document is the following statement


Improving footways can make walking more pleasurable and reduce fears of tripping / falling. The Council has been investing in the borough’s highways and footways for the past four years and since 2014 has invested in excess of £40 million to improve our roads. Whilst the works take place action is also taken to tidy up associated infrastructure and generally reduce street clutter[1].


[1] Barnet Council (January 2019) Environment Committee Report: Highways Planned Maintenance


Again such comments as this have no place in a strategy document aimed at making the Borough fit for purpose by 2040. Anyone familiar with the Borough's pavements will have noticed a marked decline over the past 15 years. I can only presume that the above note was put into try and mislead us that there have been improvements. Having lived locally since 1962, I know how good the pavements used to be. 


Cycling




I will not be covering the cycling aspects here in detail. The Barnet Cycling Campaign are preparinga response. I will just point out that the follling statements demonstrates much that is wrong with the report


·       Cycle routes could be provided between areas which have the potential to attract cyclists. They would need to be direct. The following routes are among the highest priority connections according to TfL analysis:
·        North Finchley to Totteridge and Whetstone;
·        North Finchley to High Road and Ballard’s Lane;
·        Finchley to Hornsey, which The Council are already working on;
·        North Finchley to Highgate; and
·        Hendon to Brent Cross.


It seems that the council is rather keen on cycling around North Finchley? My view is that safe cycling routes to tube and rail stations and on East-West routes with poor public transport provision. I have long been an advocate of Boris bikes at Mill Hill Broadway and Colindale station for acceess to RAF museum, council offices, Saracens etc.

Barnet Topography
There is also a rather misleading statement regarding the topography of the Borough. Whilst it is true that the eastern side of the Borough is quite hilly (see map), west of the A1 this is not the case


·       Given Barnet’s topography and demographics, electric bicycles are likely to be more effective than standard bicycles. Over one in five Londoners quotes being too old or unfit as a barrier to cycling; electric bicycles offer similar advantages to conventional bikes when compared with a car – improved air quality, reduced road congestion and improved road safety – but require less physical effort.
This demonstrates a lack of homework on the part of those putting this report together. It is odd that the suggested improvements are inthe hillier part of Barnet, rather than Edgware/Burnt Oak/Colindale


Public Transport

It seems that Barnet Council believe that faster buses is the answer to the issue of East West public transport.
Orbital journeys in Barnet by public transport are currently very difficult: although bus routes exist, they are often caught in congestion, reducing reliability and increasing journey times.
An efficient orbital service would not only join key destinations such as Hendon, Brent Cross, Finchley, New Southgate and Arnos Grove, but also provide resilience for radial routes such as Thameslink, Northern Line, Piccadilly Line, Jubilee Line and, in the future, Crossrail 2 and the West London Orbital by joining them together. This would involve close collaboration with neighbouring boroughs of Enfield and Brent.

Barnet Fast Busroute map

The map included is quite bizarre.

The maps seemingly has two routes, the more northerly one of which avoid the Thameslink stations completely. It also seems to terminate somewhere between Burnt Oak and Edgware on the Northern Line. It also seems to avoid the Barnet Branch of the Northern Line.

The implication is that it will be a guided busway, as this is cheaper than a tram system or a tube/rail option.  As ever penny pinching seems to be the way in Barnet. Given that there is an existing rail trackbed between Mill Hill East and Saracens Stadium, as well as between Edgware and Mill Hill, which would require minimal work to adapt to a Croydon Tramlink based system, it seems that a major opportunity is being completely ignored. The document should be seriouslye exploring this and aiming to identify fundings sources. The logical network would be from Crossrail 2 in New Southgate to Edgware, or even beyond to Stanmore.

Another missed opportunity is a station on the West London Orbital Station at the RAF museum in Hendon, as a turn around point. This is a national museum and a station would relieve pressure on the Northern Line, with the huge Colindale developments.

On Demand Bus/Cab services.

We already have cab services around the Borough. What the Mayor/Barnet should do is insist that all cars and minicabs operating in Barnet use renewable/clean fuels.

Road Safety.

This is appalling at present. The report states

Improving road safety is critical in Barnet: approximately 100 people are killed or seriously injured on Barnet’s roads every year, almost two every week.

The report concludes


·       Speed limited by road design. To be effective, engineering features should be introduced which limit speed on non-arterial routes, following advice in TfL’s Achieving Lower Speeds Toolkit.
·       Enforcement. To deter speeding, drivers breaking limits should be penalised.

This is interesting. Barnets Conservatives spent millions ripping out speed reducing infrastructure, such as road humps between 2002 and 2012. It seems they've realised that they have made a terrible mistake. As to enforcement, I rather hope speeding drivers are already penalised.

Freight and Logistics.
 I am at a loss to comment on this section. I can only speculate as to who wrote it. Firstly the aspiration

Freight will flow efficiently through the borough, enabling the goods and services that the borough and city require to reach their destinations. Negative impacts such as air pollution and collisions will be reduced through journey efficiencies in densely populated areas, fuel changes and road safety improvements, while congestion could be reduced through consolidation.

Clearly, there is zero understanding of what freight transport really is. Much freight on the roads in Barnet ends its journey in Barnet. Brent Cross shopping centre, for instance, is a huge destination for lorries containing goods. Post office sorting offices, major building sites (of which there are many in Barnet and many more planned) are huge originators of freight traffic. Barnet passed plans for a huge rail aggregates terminal in Cricklewood, which is now in operation, is also a major originator of road freight.

Local residents in Mill Hill know that the builders of the NIMR development on the Ridgeway have taken no notice at all of designated routes. The council has taken no enforcement action at all against these breaches that we are aware of. This should be easy to police. Cameras on site and around, which can be monitored for breaches, with punitive fines for those contractors who do not follow the plan. The fact that this is not acknowledged shows that there is simply no understanding at all of what Barnet can do.

A major step would be to ban lorries from our streets in rush hour. 

Perhaps the most alarming section in the report on freight is the following statement.
Similarly, even if Network Rail electrified all rail routes in Barnet, freight trains would still need to run on diesel unless the entire national network was electrified. As a result, a key part of The Council’s freight policy will require coordination with neighbouring boroughs and national government to ensure fair and enforceable restrictions across the network
This shows just how little the council understands the issue. Firstly all of the main line railways in Barnet that form part of the Network railways are electrified. The only sections that are not is the Freight only line from Hendon to the Cricklwood aggregates hub and Dudding Hill Line. The Dudding Hill Line would offer major opportunities for through freight services operated by electric trains if electrified and re-signalled as part of the West London Orbital railway scheme, sadly this does not warrent a mention. I am not qualified to say whether the aggregates terminal could be safely electrified. Historically the solution was to have pilot engines for such depots. These can also operate as Thunderbird engines to rescue stranded electric trains when they bring wires down etc. It would seem to me that there is an excellent opportunity at Cricklewood to station one such engine.

Summary.

 This document is quite woeful. It is badly researched, lacking in vision and does not in any way, shape or form address the issues that the huge developments in Barnet raise. We will be returning to the themes raised in coming weeks.

If you wish to comment, you are advised to use the Survey sheet - https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BarnetLTTS

I suggest that Barnet Residents do not use this. The questions are laid out in a way that completely prevents a proper response. I suggest that all residents write to the email address suggested - cara.elkins@barnet.gov.uk and state that you wish to comment by email on the subject and submit your comments in the format of your choice. Barnet have form for makingsuch surveys vehicles for getting the response they want.  

I have embedded the document below, if you wish to comment. If you care about our local environment, please read this and send your comments.

This response is very much a first read, but it is vital that you also read it and supply your responses.