Thursday, 5 April 2018

Mill Hill Town Centre Meeting - Richard Logues Report

 Richard Logue
Last night, there was a very useful and constructive discussion on the future of Mill Hill Broadway – our town centre - was held last night at Mill Hill Library. Key concerns were regarding parking – some believe we should have a free parking period of up to 30 minutes on the Broadway, while others believe the costs of parking should vary depending on demand.

Generally we have good bus and rail provision in Mill Hill, however there is significant gaps in our public transport. For instance there is no direct bus from Mill Hill to Barnet General and there is inadequate east-west borough links, leading to daily traffic jams on key roads such as Pursley Road and Totteridge Lane.

The street lighting on the Broadway was regarded as too dim. One possible solution to this would be to replace the existing orange halogen lights with white LED lights. These would not only appear brighter, they would also be cheaper to run. The street lighting discussion led to a further discussion on the Christmas lights. It was agreed that a good Christmas light display leads to better footfall on the Broadway. John Gillett the Chairman of the Mill Hill Neighbourhood Forum asked the audience if anyone was prepared to make a financial contribution to get more and better lights in place.

John also mentioned that the traders association formerly active in Mill Hill Broadway is largely moribund, however he did say that a Shop Watch scheme is being set up in the Broadway in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police. This will certainly help make our shops more secure.

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Pocket Park
John Gillett also pointed out that we can actually write preferred shop front designs into the Neighbourhood plan. Out of that many present expressed concerns with the increasing number of shops putting cages with goods out onto the streets – one man present stated that the Broadway was starting to resemble Watling Street with the shop cages containing toilet rolls and other low priced goods. The new food store next to Costas had a large amount of fruit and vegetables on display in one of the most polluted sections of Mill Hill Broadway.


The new “pocket park” or town square located at the junction of Brockenhurst Gardens and the Broadway next to Boots is about to have its street furniture put in place in time for the mid-April markets. It was suggested that we should have some music available  and a regular coffee and tea service to encourage people to meet up there. The possibility of a pop-up cinema at the hub was discussed, along with ideas to achieve a permanent cinema, somewhere on the Broadway. For instance a regenerated undercroft at Mill Hill Broadway station might be a site, or maybe elsewhere on the Broadway itself.

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Step Free access is required at Mill Hill

Step free access at Mill Hill Broadway station is still under discussion, one option would be to partially fund it by redeveloping the Bunns Lane car park into a multi-storey car park with a Hotel. The estimated cost of a full step-free access scheme which effectively rebuilds the existing 1960s concrete station wedged at the side of the M1 motorway would be in the region of an eye-watering £8 million. This sounds expensive; but is in fact in line with the cost of similar developments elsewhere.

The proposed takeover of the Lloyds Bank site by Dominos Pizza was not welcomed by anyone present. One major concern is the potential increased number of pizza delivery motorbikes on the street. Pizza Hut’s bikes aren’t welcome to begin with and Dominos could bring even more of these bikes on to the streetscape.

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Nat West Bank -Now closed
It was suggested that the old bank premises could be used as a Bistro or bar, the issue here is that the freeholders of the bank premises wanted a very large rent, which effectively prices out any smaller businesses. Indeed the large number of premises owned on the Broadway by commercial landlords who have no connection with Mill Hill results in the highest bid is always chosen. To compare and contrast, towns like Berkhamsted where there is a wider range of shops and restaurants. This wide variety of shops and restaurants are encouraged by the lower rents in these towns, which encourages good growth. Until we tackle the issue of high commercial rents and highest bidder wins we will not get the independent shops that the Broadway really needs to regenerate itself.

Finally it was pointed out that the Broadway will be 100 years old in 2020. There was a general consensus that this milestone should be marked with a major street festival. Jon Klaff suggested that we should investigate closing the Broadway temporarily for the festival to accommodate a larger number of stalls and performance areas that could be put in place for the proposed festival.  A major event like the centenary of the Broadway needs some robust planning, well in advance. Who’s up for getting their sleeves rolled up and helping to organise this?

The meeting was attended by Candidates for Mill Hill and Hale ward including Rachel Barker and Val Duschinsky. I am of course a candidate in Mill Hill representing the Liberal Democrats.

2 comments:

  1. In what way is the Broadway going to be 100 years old in 2020? According to the LB Barnet website "the lower end of what had been Lawrence Street [was] renamed in the 1910s after the first shops had been opened."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Edgar, that is when Mill Hill Broadway Station on the Midland Railway was opened.

    ReplyDelete

Time for Mill Hill to come together