The historic town of High Barnet has two conservation areas, Monken Hadley and Wood Street which between them include the northern and southern parts of the High Street respectively. In a 2008 survey of residents it was found that 71% of respondents did not realise that any part of the High Street was in a conservation area, and of those who did 81% felt the properties did not have the appearance of a conservation area. Within these figures there was some approval for the appearance of the conservation area at the northern end of the High St., but almost no approval for the appearance of the southern stretch.
The iconic image of High Barnet is the view looking up the High Street towards the Church, distinguished by the imposing presence of the Church flanked by two curving rows of shops and pubs as they follow the split in the road. Being protected by conservation area status, it should be expected that these buildings would reflect the historic importance of the area. Sadly, this is far from the case. Although some buildings have retained an appearance that is in keeping with how the area ought to look, e.g. The Mitre and The Bull, the overall appearance is of modern shop fronts no different from any other high street around the country that lacks any distinguishing architectural or historic value.
Chipping Barnet – or High Barnet as the town is now otherwise known – has a rich history. The value of many surviving buildings is reflected in the two established conservation areas – Hadley and Wood St, which embrace many buildings of Georgian or Victorian origin, and covers the older areas of the town built in the period up to the mid nineteenth century. A number of buildings in these two areas are listed. Between them these areas cover some 50% of the area that might be described as High Barnet/Hadley, but are not physically connected. Hadley conservation area, though including the north end of the High St, has an essentially ‘village’ feel, whist the Wood St area is decidedly urban. Both are primarily linear in character being strung out along the major roads through the town.