15 January 2021
Chipping Barnet Town Team
(held via Zoom due to Covid-19 restrictions)
15 January 2021
|Apologies: David Longstaff (DL), Susan Skedd (SS)
|In Attendance: Penny Baxter (PB), Robin Bishop (RB), Nanna Blomquist (NB), Bob Burstow (BB), Susi Earnshaw (SE), Gail Laser (GL), Janet Littlewood (JL), Chris Nightingale (CN), Mike Noronha (MN), Ken Rowland (KR), Theresa Villiers (TV), Ave Vinick (AV), Shaun Wall (SW), Ashleigh Watkins (AW), Diane Whalley (DW). Shaun Wall from The Spires was welcomed back after a few years’ absence. His role was now Regional Manager with responsibility for several shopping centres. GL chaired the meeting in the absence of DL.
|A. 1. a. b. c. d. e. 2. a. b.
|Annual General Meeting Elections: Chairman: DL had indicated he was happy to continue as chairman. Proposed by KR, seconded by TV. Agreed. Vice Chairman: GL proposed by RB, seconded by BB. Agreed. Secretary: BB indicated this would be his last year as Secretary. Proposed by SE, seconded by PB. Agreed. Minute Secretary: JL happy to continue. Treasurer: BB indicated this would be his last year as Treasurer. Proposed by GL, seconded by RB. Agreed. Approval of Finances: Town Team Finances: BB explained that the Medieval Festival had been set up as a separate committee with approx. £17,500 put into the TT account to be taken out when it was established as a formal body. The only outgoings for the Town Team had been £60 (£5 lower than last year) to Michael Kentish of Hopscotch for hosting the website. There was no income, so £124 was left in the Metro Bank account. Teenage Market Finances: BB reported that a loan had been made to the two greengrocers on the traditional market so they could buy their stalls. Approx £4,500 had been paid back by Andy and Tyler, leaving about £1,000 outstanding which would be repaid in the first couple of months of 2021. There had been standard payments for each market pre-Covid for the set up and take down of stalls, for sound engineers, etc, leaving just over £11,000 in the Teenage Market account. The Teenage Market was now moving into its next phase. RB asked what the legal connection was between the Teenage Market and the Town Team. BB explained it was a sub-group or a sub-set of the Town Team. It had never been constituted as a separate legal entity so is a part of the Town Team but it did have separate accounts. BB had contracted to run the Teenage Market for 12 months but that was 4 years ago. He had continued running it as no one had been prepared to take it on. He had been in conversation with the College from the start of last year and he hoped that would reach a conclusion in the next couple of months when the College would take it over, which would mean the Teenage Market did not have to be formalised into a separate organisation which was then immediately disbanded. It was agreed to continue on this basis.
|Main Meeting Minutes of previous meeting and matters arising not covered in agenda. The minutes from 6 November 2020 were agreed. BB confirmed that the letter to Shanly Homes had been sent. Tree in the Churchyard: RB said he had not been copied into an email from DL to Andy Tipping about the plans for the tree near L’Antica, so DL needed to confirm that email had been sent. RB asked about the planters in the Churchyard which needed repair. BB had written to the Church Wardens and their response had been that this was the part of the Churchyard they were most concerned about rather than the trees, but there had been no indication of when they would repair the broken brickwork. BB explained that the ownership of the Churchyard sat with the Church, but Green Spaces at the Council had responsibility to keep it in good order. He did not know if that extended to repairing brickwork. He agreed to write again to the Church Wardens and suggest they ask Green Spaces about the repair. TV said she had been concerned about the state of Church Passage for ages, particularly the bins which looked rusty and were not emptied as often as they should be. She had raised this with the Council previously. BB said that the manager of L’Antica had offered to replace the bin outside the pizzeria, and it was agreed it would look better if it matched the ones on the widened pavements. Mention was also made of the bin outside Hopscotch which leaked and caused Michael Kentish a lot of grief. KR said that not all the bins on the High St had been replaced and there were a lot of the old cast iron bins and some with yellow and black tape around them, so it would be good if we could have a programme for their replacement. TV agreed to talk to the Council about the bins on the High St. GL mentioned the rubbish left on the pavement outside L’Antica. TV said it had been completely clear that morning and had spent several months in correspondence with the Council who had said most of the rubbish was from L’Antica and they were therefore entitled to put it there. She had noticed this morning “no fly tipping” signs. KR said that part of the problem with the rubbish was that it attracted vermin, so a few months ago he had suggested to BB that a small attractive store could be erected for the bags of rubbish to be stored until collection. BB said that the parish council had not wanted a store to be erected, but KR said that there had been a communications hub on the same space until a few years ago so it could be a replacement for that and tidy the place up. Everyone agreed this seemed a sensible solution. Rubbish collection and the mechanical road sweeper were discussed. TV said she had been sent the 7-day schedule of cleaning including daily servicing by the mechanical sweeper which she would circulate after the meeting so that everyone could check that the work was being done. She thought the service schedule did not match reality. KR confirmed that Chipping Barnet was a primary town centre and so should receive the gold-plated service re street cleaning. GL asked for plans for The Spires but SW said it was early days for plans. He explained his role meant he had to share his time between shopping centres and at the moment the important thing was to get through the difficult times before committing to anything. It was all about holding on to what we had. He was in touch with a lot of shopping centres and none were as fortunate as The Spires, mainly because as an external shopping centre people would feel more comfortable and safer shopping there after Covid.
|DL BB TV TV
|2. a. b. c.
|Tabling of items for Any Other Business. Premier Inn Hotel Architecture 00 Barnet Covid update Group
|3. a. b. c. d. e. f.
|Reports and Updates from Groups Bull Theatre SE reported that the work next door at 70 High St should be finished very soon, when hopefully they would get their carpark back. The Theatre School was also in consultation with Barnet College about a partnership which would involve sharing facilities and teachers. That might mean that performing arts students at the College would link with the Theatre and get involved in festivals across the Borough and the Barnet Christmas Fayre. The school obviously had no students on site at the moment so the owners of 70 High St were repairing holes in the walls where their workmen had come through. TV reported that the Council were still pursuing the owners of 70 High St for not conforming to the planning permission that was granted. The Council had issued a fresh notice on 17 December and were waiting for that to be appealed. If no appeal, the owners would be obliged to take down the building and replace it with a compliant one, so an appeal was expected. PB announced a new painting/photo competition covering all age groups to help those who had felt trapped in their homes. Prizes would be awarded. KR said he would donate a vinyl record as a prize. PB would send out details. MN reported that the Museum was closed at the moment but a lot of work had been put on-line. Photographs and press cuttings could be seen on the Museum website. For the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Barnet, MN wondered if it would be a good idea to put the banners up on the High St in April and leave them there all summer until the Medieval Festival which had been put back to September. He did not want to attract people to the High St if they should not be going there. The banners should look particularly good on the widened section as they would be closer together. It was agreed it was a good idea to put the banners up in April and leave them there all summer to brighten up the High St. The Museum had prepared information on the Battle of Barnet for schools but this might be abandoned until next year while remote learning was being conducted. Work on the play about the Battle of Barnet, The Fog of War, had progressed but no rehearsals could take place at the moment because of Lockdown. He was not sure whether it would be performed in April. The Museum was also preparing a book for the 100th anniversary of the Chipping Barnet War Memorial which had been erected 100 years ago on 3 April this year. The book would be published but he was not sure about anything in public because of the restrictions. PB asked for something from MN to post on the local U3A website. The former shop Chudy’s, next door to The Mitre, had been in the News as 14th century beams had been discovered there. Archaeologists had reported it as one of the most significant finds in a generation and was one of the oldest buildings in London. It was a huge piece of heritage in the middle of Chipping Barnet. The owners, who wanted to turn it into a florists, had done the right thing by consulting the right people but how it could be run as a shop and display the ancient beams and main features was a quandary, and when they embarked on the scheme they probably had not realised how valuable and important it would be. RB said that the owners were still waiting for planning permission to be granted but that had been in the pipeline for some time. He thought a condition could be imposed so that it was open to the public once a year under the Open House arrangement. KR wondered if there was any Heritage Lottery funding which the owners could access to help them financially if displaying the ancient beams was going to incur more money than first thought. BB reiterated that the Medieval Festival had been postponed until September. The exact date could not be announced until SS had finished speaking to the re-enactors and the insurance companies. It was thought the usual June date would be a bit too soon after Covid so September had been chosen. There was no update on the CCTV being put up in St Albans Rd. GL said the rubbish there was getting worse and now seemed to be on private land. KR said he would try and find out what was going on. The Christmas tree had been erected but it had been tiny and had gone up a bit late.
|KR PB MN KR
|Chipping Barnet Community Plan AW was pleased to report that since the launch last Friday 15,000 people had visited the website and 300 comments had been lodged, which was incredible in the first week and a very strong start. The comments were positive too. Through social media only 500 people had visited the website which was nowhere near as good so in Week 2 the Facebook Boost Page and local postcodes would be used to get it out to as many people as possible. In addition, 40 more people had asked to be put on the mailing list. A team had delivered 1,000 leaflets in targeted areas and there were 20 copies of the Plan in the Library which could be ordered through the Select and Collect service. He also had 10 additional copies if anybody wanted a hard copy but he preferred comments to be lodged on line because they were collated electronically. RB offered to act as a postbox for AW to deliver hard copies for onward distribution. AW was planning another leaflet drop in Week 3 because it was important to engage the local community. BB offered to help with that. He also had 10 posters but with shops being closed it was difficult to know where to display these. SW said he could put some on the carpark display boards, and SE said she would put one up in The Bull window. KR said that BRA was going to email all businesses on the High St using the business database and all BRA members had also been emailed. DW said they had shared it with all market traders on the Market Facebook page which had a good reach. AW asked all groups to share the link so that it reached as many people as possible. Other suggestions for advertising the Plan were: using The Spires Facebook page; laminated copies on Ravenscroft Park railings; local U3A website; putting hard copies in the Church; TV happy to share the link on her social media platforms. KR thought that the website could be considered difficult to navigate and penetrate and a lot of time needed to be invested in looking at it. When printed out, the summary document was 72 pages long. Having said that, the interest via Facebook had been very positive and encouraging. AW explained that the website was designed to be flexible so that people could dip in and out of the areas/projects they were interested in. It was a complex document but it was for the entire town centre. BB said that if the document had been brief he would have been disappointed. He was delighted to see the detail and the reminder about the initial consultation. He did wonder whether 6 weeks was long enough and if interest continued to build perhaps the consultation period could be extended slightly. GL suggested making it clear that the website could be read in bite-size chunks rather than the complete document. GL said some of the project ideas were already out of date, like the Nesbitt’s Alley one where there was a planning application being considered to turn the Bentley Garage into flats and shops. AW said that some of the projects did become out of date very quickly and that was why it was a live community plan and not a strategic plan which sat on the shelf. He could not commit to this but he thought it would need to be reviewed every so often so the wheel was not being reinvented. TV said that given the limitations on retail, other ways of pulling people into the town centre were needed, so she was pleased to see projects for better facilities for families and play spaces and better links between the surrounding green spaces and parks and the town centre, but she was anxious about the strong emphasis at the start on active travel. Although a fan of active travel the topography of Chipping Barnet posed challenges and she had noticed a proposal for a comprehensive review of parking and, although many did not like it, we were still a car-based community and any proposal that was anti-car or discouraging cars to the High St might run into opposition and not be successful in attracting people to the High St. She wanted to sound that note of caution. BB liked the division into four areas and said that the next and final stage was to arrive at the top 5 or 6 projects which Architecture 00 would produce outline bids for which would then be applied when funding became available. AW said that the most important part of that was to get working groups in the community to push these projects forward. Workshops would be organised. People would be asked to come forward who could give time for these projects to get off the ground. BB said people had already been asking him how they could become a leader of a project. BB said that the Teenage Market had been identified as a possible project but he suggested that the Teenage Makers was not high on the list of top projects as there was already a lot of money in the Teenage Market account and a lot of the discussion around that had already taken place, although a lot depended on the cost of getting equipment moved and installed on College premises. He said there would be a rump of money which had been set aside for the Teenage Market account and he suggested donating that to the College to go towards the cost of running the summer school for the teenage makers. That would result in a very quick win on one of the projects and there would be no need for Architecture 00 to produce bid documentation for something which was already there. AW said that there were projects which would overlap with one another. Identifying the funding available was the first thing to do and then there would indeed be a shortlisting process for short, medium and long-term projects. A quick win would indicate that the Plan was working. For the long-term bigger project which would start to make changes, Architecture 00 would be reviewing the community’s responses, pulling the proposals together and then a number of meetings would need to happen including one with the Town Team to discuss them. A project needed to be agreed and then moved to the next stage. There was a whole sign-off process which had to happen. GL asked if the Council were willing to fund any of the projects. AW said the Council did have some capital CIL funding which could be unlocked but there had to be a strategic case made to unlock that investment. That is what would be brought to the table, how to unlock the investment available to town centres which applied for it. There were other pots of money available, eg the National Lottery Heritage Fund was always going to have money to be applied for, and Chipping Barnet’s heritage was unique. Architecture 00 were experts in writing funding bids, and in the last GLA funding round they had had four big projects get through so they had the knowledge to unlock the funding. He said it was important to choose the first projects carefully because it became a matter of trust if people did not see change. He hoped there would be a really ambitious project chosen. What had helped in Chipping Barnet was the pavement widening and he thought that was why there was better engagement here because there was a perception that change could happen. GL said that Architecture 00 were only contracted for a limited period of time and there were other town centres in the Borough. AW said he had four main town centres and he had already recruited an additional senior town centre project officer to oversee Finchley Central and Golders Green, and he was in the process of recruiting for North Finchley and Chipping Barnet. Those project officers would bring their wealth of experience in bringing regeneration projects forward. He had acknowledged the need for resource building and was hoping to have that role secured by April which would tie in nicely with the next stage of developing the feasibility studies. He agreed, there was a need for resourcing and he had taken steps to secure that. KR wanted to understand the Town Team’s involvement in the shortlisting process. Was the TT expected to come up with five projects. AW said that Architecture 00 would have to make sure that the projects put forward were realistic, then they could be brought to the Town Team as the ones the community had expressed an interest in which could be delivered. If the Town Team wanted to add another one, Architecture 00 would have to test that before the five were chosen. AW said he would talk to Architecture 00 about co-ordinating that and would come back to us. RB had understood that it had already been made clear that the Town Team was going to share with the Council the selection of the projects. He agreed that the sifting process to the shortlist would be done by Architecture 00 and the Council officers, but he had understood the Town Team would be at the table when the final five were chosen whilst respecting the Council officers’ knowledge and them being the final arbiters. There was no reason why the Team’s individual organisations should not be thinking about particular projects they wanted to pursue or possibly lead on. AW said that some of the projects the community could get on with without the Council but the final five would be ones the Council would need to be involved in, although parts of other projects which had community outreach could be brought in. That was why workshops were needed. He agreed that the Town Team were the champions of the town centre and the Council wanted the Town Team to be very involved with this but he would have to confirm with Architecture 00 how it would work as there was governance within the Council and they had to review things before they were brought to the Town Team. GL asked how long Architecture 00 were engaged for and would the whole team be involved. AW said the whole team would do five feasibility studies with business cases, some of which would require procurement documents. Some projects might require consultants to be brought on board, eg a wayfinding expert might be needed so there would need to be procurement and a cut-off point when the relevant consultant was on board. In the past a lot of the strategies ended after the consultation and the final town centre strategy had been adopted, but AW had secured the funding to move things into the next phase so there was the governance and sign-off to move straight to progressing delivery, because that gap was never good. With the Golders Green strategy that next stage was not built in and the Council has learnt that lesson. AW confirmed that Architecture 00 worked against milestones, so if a milestone was not reached they carried on working on it. There was no date set when they would finish. JL asked whether Government funding would be forthcoming after the Covid crisis because there would be a real shortage of money. AW said that funding last year did not allow for new projects but the GLA had said that the Good Growth Fund was moving into its next phase called Adapting High Streets. There had been a signal from the GLA for councils to be prepared with bids in the summer of 2021. The MHCLG (Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Gov) had completed two rounds of High St funding and had indicated they would be announcing more funding in the summer, with money coming through in 2022. The Government had realised that high streets were not working on retail-only models any more and that money would be needed. Heritage Lottery Funding was always available and CIL money was also available for smaller projects. This Plan positioned Chipping Barnet in a very good place and the Town Team had proved that change could happen. If the Town Team members had any particular projects they were interested in possibly leading on, AW asked to let him know so he could pass that on to Architecture 00.
|5. a. b. c.
|Any Other Business SW asked what had happened to the Premier Inn hotel development and was told that the developers were having difficulties getting the funding until Whitbread offered the appropriate rent per room, which was the new funding model for hotels. BB asked AW to pass on the Town Team’s thanks and congratulations to Architecture 00. GL said she had joined the Barnet Covid champion group which was very informative. Anyone could join by clicking on the link on the Love Barnet Facebook page.
|Meeting Ended 5.45 pm
Future meetings: 5 March, 7 May, 9 July, 3 September, 5 November