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by Tom Marshall
Friday, January 17, 2014
English Heritage has been accused of pursuing the “destruction of nature” for no good reason with its plans to recreate a “lost vista” by chopping down dozens of trees on the Kenwood estate.
The conservation body hopes to restore “one of London’s great views” by clearing away 26 trees, including three much-loved copper beeches, which sit beneath the 18th century Kenwood Dairy cottage to the west of the main house.
But the proposal met with fierce criticism from some quarters this week, following the launch on Friday of a consultation which runs until January 31.
Hampstead Heath activist David Lewis, a leading campaigner against the City of London’s controversial dams project, said: “These trees look splendid and they’re a feature in themselves – a better feature than the dairy or the proposed view.
“It’s destruction of nature and I just can’t see the point. They’re not such brilliant views anyway.”
The Grade II-listed dairy was recently opened to the public for the first time after being restored as part of the £5.95million Caring for Kenwood project, which also saw Kenwood House undergo a major renovation before being reopened by the Prince of Wales in December.
English Heritage says the scheme would return the landscape to its 18th century splendour, recreating views that were unchanged for 150 years before a number of trees were planted in the 1950s to provide privacy to the dairy.
“I have seen no documentary evidence that this view was ever intended,” Mr Lewis said. “It’s just rumour and supposition as far as I’m concerned.”
The estate boasts some 5,600 trees according to English Heritage, 1,700 of which were planted over the past five years. Fifty more are due to be added this winter.
Head gardener Paul Jackson said: “The Kenwood landscape is as much a masterpiece of careful design as the house itself. For over 150 years, visitors could enjoy, from the dairy, glorious views over the estate. But over the past few decades, one of London’s great views was lost.
“Now with the dairy restored and open to the public, we want to bring back these dramatic views and help visitors to better appreciate the nature and art of Kenwood.”
Mr Jackson will be at the dairy on Sunday from 10am to 3pm to discuss the project.
It will then be presented in more detail at a public meeting at Kenwood House from 5.30pm on Tuesday.
Residents can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to give their views.