Report of the Environment & Transport Committee – 2017-8

The following items are amongst the many issues we have discussed and acted upon.

North Finchley Town Centre Supplementary Planning Document: Within the response sent by the Finchley Society, proposals for traffic and transport are considered to be fundamental in the success of the future of the town centre. While noting the consultation responses, the Barnet Council Policy & Resources Committee have agreed to the adoption of the draft supplementary planning document and to establish a North Finchley Partnership Board comprising of local stakeholders including community associations.

Draft Green Infrastructure Supplementary Planning Document: We also responded to this consultation, our comments being taken into consideration when the final version was adopted by Barnet Council.

Parks and open spaces: At Victoria Park, money raised from the sale of the park keeper’s lodge is ring-fenced for capital spending on the Park. Landscaping Design Service Groundwork are now consulting with park users in order to draw up a master plan for the park. The Friends of Victoria Park have also produced a wish list of development ideas. A Farmers Market has planning permission to take place at the Ballards Lane entrance to the park.

Cherry Tree Wood: the pavilion stands as a forlorn wreck despite a report being drawn up in September 2016 by Capita recommending demolition. The time has come when this seems the only option.

Footpaths Rights of Way Group: When we see a ‘public footpath’ sign we think that this must be a right of way but in order to have this protective status the path must be recorded as such on the council’s definitive list and map. As you will know from the item in the newsletter a footpaths ‘Rights of Way’ group has been formed to record all footpaths in the Borough. Libby Martin, secretary of Barnet Ramblers, and Roger Chapman of The Finchley Society are working with representatives of community groups around Barnet borough in order to meet the deadline date of December 2025 for claims using historical evidence. We will have to make sure that footpaths included on Barnet Council’s ‘List of streets maintainable at public expense’ are included as rights of way and that other routes not covered on this list are similarly recorded and all are added to the Definitive Map.

The urban alleyways of Finchley need to be recorded as rights of way so as to safeguard their status for the future. The Rights of Way group approach to Barnet Council has been effective in providing additional highways information, and confirmed that they do not have a regularly used procedure for handling Rights of Way claims. The group has done historical map checks of the Borough, identifying historic routes. Members of the group and others have submitted suggested routes currently in use but not properly recorded, leading to a long list to investigate. The group will be putting in a few sample claims to help establish procedures and see how Barnet council respond.

Roads and pavements: On Barnet Council Residents Survey over the last five years, top of the list of dissatisfaction has been the condition of roads and pavements. Barnet Highways have a ‘Network Recovery Planned Maintenance Programme’ in which they are attempting to catch up on many years of lack of maintenance of roads and pavements. In order to get lengths of road and pavement included in the maintenance programme the request must go through local councillors.

Problems such as potholes and broken paving should be notified to the council by the ‘report a problem’ facility on the Barnet council website. A useful facility for raising environmental and transport matters is by sending items to the Finchley & Golders Green Forum which guarantees a response from the council and which may lead to matters being taken up and acted upon.

We were pleased to welcome new members to the committee: Stephen Cooper as secretary and Brenda Barrett.

Peter Hale