Beating back invasion of “triffid” lampposts in Hampstead Garden Suburb

�An invasion of lampposts in Hampstead Garden Suburb sparked the creation of a residents group bidding to return their corner of the suburb to architectural prominence.

Central Square is flanked by two Grade I listed churches, designed by one of Britain’s greatest architects.

So residents were horrified when Barnet Council started to plant five metre tall highway lampposts on the green, spoiling the look of the leafy surroundings.

The Central Square Residents’ Association was born out of a desire to uproot what have become known locally as “the triffids” – after a sci-fi novel about killer plants – and begin work on returning the area to its former glory.

Following the group’s representations, the council started removing the lampposts last week and replacing them with “heritage” lights.

Richard Townley, of the residents’ association, said: “The square is the architectural heart of Barnet, being designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. It has two wonderful churches and Henrietta Barnett School and a few houses, and over the years it has been neglected.

“The council is overstretched and has not been putting in the money. The residents’ association has the ambition of improving the square and making sure that the works are more in keeping with the surroundings. This has been a very good start as far as we’re concerned.”

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Central Square residents felt overlooked after it emerged that the council had consulted with the trust which governs the conservation of the area, and the Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents’ Association, which represents the wider community but not them.

Discussions between the council and the newly-formed group led to Central Square being reclassified from a highway and the council has agreed to fit lamps matching the height of the Henrietta Barnett Memorial, which is no more than three metres tall.

The group now has plans to transform the area bit by bit, from the untended paths and flower beds to the turf and the trees.

“We want the square to become the architectural centrepiece again,” said Mr Townley. “It’s the kind of place which in other countries would have plaques up and people would visit. It should be of high quality urban design and that’s our long-term objective.”