High Barnet could lose its iconic spires under “horrific” new proposals for the town’s shopping centre.
Owner William Pears Group has put forward two designs for a renovation of The Spires, in High Street, one of which involves the removal of the former Barnet Methodist Church towers.
Shoppers said they were left feeling angry and upset after the proposals, put together by architects Leslie Jones, appeared in a vacant shop window last week.
A comments box invited people to give their views and help shape the final plans, which architects hope to submit to Barnet Council in the coming months.
William Pears, which took over the centre in a £32million deal last year, is hoping a complete renovation will revive the dwindling centre and attract big name brands to High Barnet.
But one of the designs involves the controversial removal of the landmark spires, described as “incongruous” by the planners.
Shoppers we spoke to this week described the proposed removal as “horrific”, “shocking” and “completely unnecessary”, though many of them welcomed news of a refurbishment.
The owners were also criticised for failing to adequately publicise the limited consultation, which consisted of a comments box at the centre and an email address for the property agent.
In one option, the spires would be retained, cleaned and renovated and set against what the architects describe as “a sympathetic background of natural stone cladding and elegantly proportioned, simple windows.”
The existing arches would be removed and a new café, bar or restaurant would be built on the left hand side of the current entrance.
But under the second designs, the spires would be removed completely and replaced with “an exciting contemporary facade clad in brass shingles…creating a dramatic modern building which remains sensitive to the historic context of the High Street.”
Shoppers have until Wednesday, February 26, to leave their comments.
A spokesperson for The Spires said: “We have been encouraged by the high level of interest and feedback so far, which we are currently reviewing.
"The designs will remain on display until 26 February and we continue to welcome feedback.”