A photo of the outside of the Spires shopping centre on a grey day, showing the logo of the centre and the two spires for which it is named

MP opposes Barnet shopping centre development

Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers is opposing the development of the Spires shopping centre into housing.  

The proposed development is managed by BYM Capital, a property asset sourcing and investment business based in London.

Villiers said: “I am deeply worried by what is currently proposed by BYM.”

“I recently met them and stressed my opposition to their plans.

“I am also liaising with local residents’ groups and listening to the views of my constituents. 

“A planning application is expected to be submitted soon and I will be keeping constituents informed about this.”

Villiers sent an action update pamphlet to constituents explaining her opposition to the scheme.

The shopping centre, on High Barnet high street, is home to many of the high street’s businesses, including H&M, Waterstones, and Waitrose.

Waitrose, which recently agreed a new 15-year lease on its supermarket, would remain the Spires’ anchor store under the BYM plans.

The Spires was sold to BYM in May 2021 for £28 million by AIMCO, a Canadian pension fund, for £28 million – well below the previous valuation of £40 million.

At that time, the five-acre site centre was advertised as having potential for both retail and residential development.

BYM increased the size of the site in September 2022, purchasing for around £3 million an unused former car park at the junction of Chipping Close and St Albans Road.

Under BYM’s plans this will now become available for residential development.

Villiers’ pamphlet states the major reduction of the Spires car park will reduce public parking spaces across the town centre by nearly 40%.

The 250 flats in blocks of up to six storeys have been condemned by residents.

Two of Barnet’s largest representative groups, Barnet Residents Association and Barnet Society, are united in their opposition to the project.

Melvyn Sears, Chair of the Barnet Residents Association told South West Londoner: “The apartment blocks are too tall, the apartments are too small, and the new 24-hour throughfare from the High Street to Stapylton Road is too narrow.

“The close proximity of apartments and hospitality outlets would be highly detrimental both to the quality of life of residents and the day-to-day commercial success of the new centre. 

Given that one of the leaseholder’s responsibilities is to provide car parking to support high street shopping, the loss of two floors of car parking to accommodate additional flats is wholly unacceptable.

The large number of new flats with no attached car spaces would also add to the existing pressures on residential car parking in local roads.”

The development could also revitalize the High Street as increased housing would provide more shoppers for local businesses.

The Spires sits on High Barnet high street, which has struggled to retain businesses.

BYM say it believes the existing Spires shopping centre needs to adapt to changing shopping habits, and this could be facilitated with a new, enlarged pedestrian route connecting the High Street to Stapylton Road.

A new development would provide high density housing in the borough, an important consideration in tackling the housing crisis in London.

But figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities figures show that 1,905 homes in Barnet were long-term empty as of October – a slight increase from 1,891 during the same period in 2022.

Photo credit: Sophia Massam

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