Relief as Barnet High Street's historic twin spires are saved

The Spires

The Spires

First published in News Times Series: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Hundreds have breathed an overwhelming sigh of relief after proposals to bulldoze the historic twin spires outside High Barnet’s shopping centre were withdrawn by developers.

The plans formed part of one of two designs to revamp The Spires, in High Street, but owner William Pears group was flooded with a mountain of criticism.

It has now instructed its architects to draw up detailed plans which will retain the towers of the former Methodist church, while still opening the entrance from the high street.

Barnet Society members welcomed the news, which was announced at a Chipping Barnet Town meeting last night.

The society’s planning team said: “The architectural integrity of the spires were undermined when they were incorporated into the new shop frontage.

“Removing and replacing them would have reduced the character of this stretch of the high street, and produced a more banal appearance.”

Under the application, the spires would have been demolished and replaced with a flat angular roof, brass cladding and large glass windows.

At last night’s meeting, William Pears said over 1,000 questionnaires had been completed since the consultation was launched on February 14.

They said it was clear the overwhelming response from the public was towards retaining the spires.

A detailed planning application will be prepared in the coming weeks and will be submitted to Barnet Borough Council by the end of March.

Work on the new entrance, which will include Italian restaurant chain Carluccio’s, could start in 2015.

The Spires was opened in 1989 following the demolition of Barnet Barrack and the majority of the Wesleyan chapel that fronted the high street.

But the twin spires from the chapel, which dates back to 1892, were retained at the entrance.

Chair of the society, Nick Jones, said: “We are so pleased that so many people took part in the consultation exercise.

“It was marvellous display of local participation and interest.  All credit to the William Pears group for having carried out a public consultation exercise. 

“After their resurfacing work for Barnet Market – and attracting new stalls – the go ahead for a new entrance to the Spires and an upgrade of the entrance area and courtyard is another welcome sign of what we always hoped would be the commitment of the William Pears group to the Spires centre.”

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