Friday 21 April 2023

Protect Mill Hill's local footpaths and ancient rights of way - Guest blog by Richard Logue

 Mill Hill School want to close two historic paths that cross their school grounds. They claim this is for safeguarding reasons but to the best of my knowledge there have never been any such incidents. These paths have been known rights of way for hundreds of years, long before the establishment of the school itself. The footpaths are regularly used by local residents, school children from St Vincents, St Pauls and even non boarding local pupils at Mill Hill. The claims about safeguarding are rather disingenious,  as the changes will inconvenience local people going about their lawful business, whilst doing nothing to prevent anyone who might have a less genuine motivation for paying attention to the school. In fact it may make the school more vulnerable, as responsible citizens report wrongdoing and crime. Removing law abiding locals from the footpaths will mean that there are less people making sure that Mill Hill is safe.

The school claims these path closures are simply redirections of the existing paths but the graphic map they use on their website adds in public roads and the Arrandene open space paths that are already public rights of way. In the last year the school have also installed metal spikes with roughly laid green (and ugly) plastic webbing, that simply collapses and is now littering the paths.

I have redrawn the path map to show what exactly Mill Hill School are proposing;

As can be seen, the path closures are extensive, and the so-called redirected paths are short new sections that rely on the existing rights of way along Hammers Lane and Arrandene open space. These proposed changes cannot be called diversions of the existing paths, they are completely new paths.

The next step is that at some point Mill Hill School will apply to Barnet Council to close the paths and open the new proposed paths. We as a community need to be ready with our objections.

Local resident Rob Connor has set up a website:

The website offers some next steps to make pending a formal application by Mill Hill School to close these paths;

“In the meantime, we strongly suggest writing an email to protest the proposed closure to the three local councillors for Mill Hill Ward - Val Duschinsky, Laithe Jajeh and Elliot Simberg.  Their email addresses and some key points to mention are outlined below (feel free to add your own).  


It takes time to construct an email and so these direct communications are given more consideration than postings on social media, group letters and pro forma objections.  We suggest one email, copying all three.

​Key points for objection include:  

·         These are historic footpaths and cannot be shut.  

·         They have exceptional amenity value and are highly convenient to locals.  

·         If Mill Hill School has concerns regarding their site, they should take measures to secure their grounds without closing historic footpaths.

·         This proposal is not a diversion of footpaths, it represents the closure of existing paths and replacing them with are new paths.  

·         The proposed new routes are less scenic, less direct and less convenient and are a poor option compared to the existing paths.”


From Take Action | Save our footpaths

When the time comes for Mill Hill School to submit an application to close our paths, let us as a community be ready to object. I know the school are already asking their pupils parents to support the path closures, I would ask any Mill Hill, Belmont or Grimsdell parents reading this blog post to support your community and object to the closure of long standing, ancient rights of way. If the school is serious about safeguarding, then they should secure those areas where the paths cross, not close the paths.

Richard Logue is a former chairman of the Mill Hill Residents Association.

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