Conservationists abandon High Court appeal against Hampstead Heath ponds project

PUBLISHED: 11:08 16 December 2014 | UPDATED: 17:12 16 December 2014

Members of the Heath swimming associations outside the Royal Courts of Justice. Picture: Polly Hancock

Members of the Heath swimming associations outside the Royal Courts of Justice. Picture: Polly Hancock

Polly Hancock

A High Court decision against a campaign to save Hampstead Heath from being “permanently disfigured” by a £15million ponds redevelopment project will not be appealed against, the main campaign group has said.

The Heath and Hampstead Society, which had launched a £100,000 fundraising campaign to fight the City of London Corporation, has abandoned its legal fight after being advised by their solicitors that an appeal is “unlikely to succeed”.

It comes shortly after the influential civic group, which was originally founded to protect the wild and natural state of the Heath, was dealt a major blow after losing its High Court battle to block the City’s proposals to enlarge dams and build new ones.

The City, which managed the Heath, says the works are needed due to the deadly threat the collapse of the dams would pose to downstream communities.

Campaigners running the Dam Nonsense campaign, led by the Heath and Hampstead Society, said the plans would “permanently disfigure” the Heath and that the risk of collapse each year was an astronomical 1-in-400,000.

While choosing to give up its fight through the courts, the Society says it intends to continue its battle against the project by opposing the planning application for the project and make formal representations to Camden Council.

A statement released by the Heath and Hampstead society read: “The Trustees have been advised, both by their counsel and their solicitors, that an appeal is unlikely to succeed, even though, as the trial judge found, we had an arguable case, and even though we still feel that the merits of the case are on our side.

“However the law appears to be against us, something at which we remain deeply dismayed.

“Accordingly, and with great reluctance, the Trustees have decided not to seek leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal.

“The costs of seeking leave would require the Society to raise significant further funds from its members and others and they do not feel entitled, in all the circumstances, to ask those, who contributed so promptly and generously to the £100,000 fundraising appeal for the initial proceedings, to contribute further funds when the prospects of success are not favourable.”

The City plans to begin work early next year. The scheme is expected to take about two years and will see significant engineering works across the Heath.

Visitors will be faced with construction and pond closures throughout much of that time.

The council is expected to consider the planning application in the New Year.

Bob Warnock, the City Corporation’s Superintendent at Hampstead Heath, said: “The judge’s decision shows that our interpretation of the law and guidance is correct – and it means that the Heath’s landscape can remain at the heart of the scheme.

“We are protecting the Heath, improving its habitat, ecology and water quality, whilst ensuring that the earth dams are strong enough to meet modern safety standards.

“We have a legal duty to make sure the dams on the Heath do not fail, an event which would have serious consequences to the residential community downstream.

“We have a good relationship with the Heath & Hampstead Society and we will continue to work with them on the Ponds Project and Heath management issues across the board.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 19:01

This year’s Remembrance Day will see a remarkable multi-faith ceremony bring together the Highgate community to remember the horrors of the First World War on the centenary of its conclusion.

Yesterday, 16:43

Christmas came early for activists in West Hampstead last night after Camden Council refused to grant christmas tree sellers Pines and Needles a licence to trade from Fortune Green.

Yesterday, 15:00

“Zero-hours” critical care nurses at the Royal Free Trust are facing a pay cut that could set them back thousands of pounds a year, the Ham&High can reveal.

Yesterday, 14:30

Ten Lib Dem councillors have called for the Royal Mail to ask customers their thoughts about the planned closure of the Muswell Hill delivery office.

Yesterday, 13:43

Transport for London is set to attempt to take its case to the Court of Appeal against the High Court’s decision to halt the CS11 cycle superhighway in September.

Yesterday, 13:00

“With Universal Credit on one hand and Brexit causing uncertainty over immigration on the other, we’ll probably have queues out of the door.” That’s the warning from Sean Canning, director of the Camden Community Law Centre, as it celebrates its 45th birthday.

Yesterday, 12:00

Sky Mobile has been accused of “social cleansing in an advert” after the Chalcots Estate, which was evacuated due to flammable cladding last year, was airbrushed out of a new advert for the Apple IPhone Xs.


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


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now