October 22 2014 Latest news:
by Tom Marshall
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Nearly two years of construction work that will turn parts of Hampstead Heath “into a building site” moved closer after plans for the controversial dams project were lodged at Camden Town Hall.
The scheme’s opponents and Camden Council officials have begun poring over the nearly half a mile of paperwork – some 2,419 pages in all – submitted in the City of London Corporation’s planning application.
The 82 planning documents reveal that heavy duty vehicles including five-tonne tankers, nine-tonne dumpers and a 90-tonne crane will make thousands of trips in and out of four entrances to the Heath.
The works are planned to commence in just six months time with the removal of vegetation and trees in January, before the enlarging and building of new dams and spillways starts in April and continues until October 2016.
Twelve ponds across the Heath will be worked on for between four and 33 weeks each, with the bathing ponds each closed for at least three months.
Cllr Sally Gimson, Camden Council’s cabinet member for sustainability and environment – who has previously come out in favour of the £15million scheme – quickly sought to reassure the public that the council’s assessment of the proposals will be “robust”.
In a letter sent to residents in her Highgate ward on Tuesday, she revealed that the council is seeking its own professional advice on the disputed legal justification, and will be commissioning an independent review of the “methodology underpinning the proposed works”.
She added that both the council and Thames Water had asked the City to demonstrate that the works will not in fact increase the flood risk to areas like South End Green, Gospel Oak and Dartmouth Park, as a result of “interaction” with the drainage network.
Marc Hutchinson, chairman of the Heath and Hampstead Society, which is leading the opposition, said: “We welcome the fact that the council is taking legal and technical advice on the project.
“It suggests to me that they’re looking at it independently of what the City is telling them.”
Mr Hutchinson added that the project will transform the worst-affected areas, including the Model Boating Pond, “into a building site”.
A spokesman for the City said: “While we await a decision on planning, further details of the scheme, including enhancements to landscape, water quality and ecology, are being developed as part of the detailed design process.
“The construction management plan, which forms part of the planning application, shows how much detail has gone into the careful planning of vehicle movements and we are confident that this will deliver the best results swiftly and with least impact.”
About 1,700 people have signed a petition urging the council to reject the plans.
Residents have until August 4 to give their views to Camden Council.