Search

BOB HALL: Why managing the Heath is a more complex task nowadays

PUBLISHED: 15:03 10 January 2007 | UPDATED: 10:30 07 September 2010

IN the first half of this year, the major task for everyone involved in the management of Hampstead Heath is to bring the new strategic plan for the Heath into being. It had become clear that the existing management plan in its present form – a statement

IN the first half of this year, the major task for everyone involved in the management of Hampstead Heath is to bring the new strategic plan for the Heath into being.

It had become clear that the existing management plan in its present form - a statement of policies on particular topics, in most cases with some explanation - is not now sufficient for the task of managing the Heath in today's context.

This is because the City of London, as managers, now has a much greater understanding of the complex interactions between the various elements of the Heath and the influences which determine how the Heath behaves.

The Heath is a living entity, the management of which is, crucially and rightly, affected by the necessarily unpredictable actions of all those who use it, and by various statutory requirements.

When you start looking at ideas for the next 20-50 years, you realise that this remarkable place is not susceptible to the kind of regimentation that a 'plan' in the traditional sense might suggest.

The initial discussions have thrown up a series of challenges which go the heart of questions like: What sort of Heath do we want? How should new activities be introduced in such a way as does not damage or destroy the natural aspect of the space? What are the principles which should govern how development external to the Heath should be assessed? Do the various buildings on the Heath adequately fulfil their function?

Many of these questions open up new and, in some cases, unexpected areas of enquiry, but which nevertheless have to be considered.

What is now clear is that the process of establishing a Heath plan is not just a "once in every 10 years" episode. It is an iterative developmental activity. It requires the creation of a framework which sets out the overall vision for the Heath, in which long-term objectives are defined.

These in turn lead to the establishment of the strategies which are best suited to achieving those objectives, the prioritisation of which needs to be reviewed regularly, bearing in mind changing user patterns, available finance and knowledge.

The document currently being prepared does not deal with day-to-day management issues, and will be followed by detailed topic papers.

It's a challenge, and we look forward to receiving all the comments which will arise from the consultation process.

In the meantime, whilst we fret about these issues, Nature goes her own distinctive way.

Winter is usually a quiet time, as animals and plants rest before Spring. But, as visitors to the Heath have seen - witness the letters page of this newspaper in the last week or so - the mild weather this winter has disturbed the usual cycles of the flora and fauna on the Heath.

While the summer drought had a devastating and unsightly effect on the horse chestnuts, causing them to drop their leaves much earlier than usual, the warm early winter months have confused other trees. Many oaks and willows did not lose their leaves fully until late December. Flowers and plants have also started work earlier than usual.

Some of the Heath's regular winter visitors have also been very late this year. And less than a fortnight ago, Red Admiral butterflies and bumble bees were seen.

This change to traditional climate patterns is a real issue, not just for the Heath but for open spaces across Britain. The Met Office forecasts 2007 to be the warmest year on record, so this will be a considerable challenge for the Heath.

Everyone from the City of London wishes all readers and all visitors to the Heath a peaceful and successful 2007. We hope that the Heath will continue to be a welcoming and stimulating place to visit.

Bob Hall is Chairman of the Hampstead Heath Management Committee

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 23:41

I live in the north west of London in the United Kingdom. Like the rest of the country, I have been looking on in bewilderment at the Brexit deal while politicians on both sides of the house vie for political supremacy. Divisions in government make for good news headlines but do nothing for the public’s confidence in its institutions.

Yesterday, 16:24

Normally we celebrate one business of the week – but today we’ve got three!

Yesterday, 15:17

A Routemaster bus will take 72 passengers on a journey through Greek Cypriot history, via Camden and Holloway, on Sunday.

Yesterday, 12:12

The latest twist in the saga of a Hampstead landlord who refuses to pay a controversial levy saw him bring a top barrister to his court hearing.

Yesterday, 09:48

Opponents of the 100 Avenue Road development suffered a major blow last night as Camden voted through a controversial plan that will funnel seven lorries a day through residential streets in Swiss Cottage.

Thu, 17:35

The families left homeless by the fire that destroyed the upper floors of Willow House in East Finchley last week said Barnet Council treated them “like ants to be squashed” in the immediate aftermath of the fire.

Thu, 12:44

The Temple Fortune community was celebrating on Tuesday after Barnet’s Finchley and Golders Green planning committee unanimously rejected plans to build housing on the old Templars Tennis Club.

Thu, 12:10

Tens of thousands of pounds, weapons and drugs were seized after searching a garage in the Peckwater Estate on Tuesday morning.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now