The Mill Hill, Seen by LSE Students report was commissioned by Mill Hill Neighbourhood Forum and carried out by an independent LSE student team between November 2014 and July 2015. Mill Hill is a suburb located in the borough of Barnet, in the north of Outer London.
Surrounded by Green Belt land and well connected to Central London, over the last century Mill Hill has developed as a desirable place to live and work. The evolution of Mill Hill is intertwined with that of the broader London region and as such, global economic and social forces impact its development in terms of population, housing and employment. The last few years have seen a continuous growth in population and a decline in local employment in Mill Hill. This suggests a shift in the relationship between the city centre and one of its peripheries, a shift seen as part of a “post-suburban state” by some scholars. The agenda of urban renaissance, developed in the early 2000s, brought new challenges for suburbs in terms of delivering higher-density settlements and increasing their overall environmental sustainability. New flatted developments, decline of the local High Streets, and the departure of large institutions such as the National Institute for Medical Research illustrate the changes that impact the identity and function of Mill Hill within the regional economy. Nevertheless, suburbs are also places that are actively shaped by their residents. The Localism Act (2011), acting on the embedded assets of local communities, gives the latter the opportunity to produce Neighbourhood Plans, putting in place a vision and policies for the future development of the area. Mill Hill residents have seized this occasion and formed a Neighbourhood Forum to tackle the issues related to the evolution of the built and open environment of the locality to ensure that new developments meet the community’s needs and reflect its identity. If successful at referendum, the Neighbourhood Plan will be part of the statutory development plan of the area and constitute a binding community-led framework for new developments.