‘Battle to protect Hampstead from rock concerts or Winter Wonderland’

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland - Credit: Archant

Fears that Hampstead Heath could be turned into a Winter Wonderland theme park and a venue for large rock concerts under new legislation have been assuaged - after months of negotiation by the Heath and Hampstead Society.

Heath and Hampstead Society chairman Marc Hutchinson has been working to protect the Heath

Heath and Hampstead Society chairman Marc Hutchinson has been working to protect the Heath - Credit: Archant

Society chairman Mark Hutchinson had sounded a warning over the City’s draft Open Spaces Bill last year when it was first drafted.

The bill gives the City of London Corporation more powers to manage its open spaces - including Hampstead Heath.

But now, after months of talks with the City, Mr Hutchinson says the Society has succeeded in getting the bill redrafted to better safeguard the Heath.

Mr Hutchinson said: “For four months over the summer of 2015 the Heath & Hampstead Society worked in detail with the City to redraft the bill, before it was submitted to Parliament, to ensure that the bill could not become a vehicle for commercialisation, and that any future events and licensed activities on the Heath would not disturb its natural aspect or the general public’s traditional enjoyment of it.”

He said three clauses of the Bill, which is currently going through parliament, particularly worried the society relating to leasing out buildings, third party commercial use of the Heath and the City’s power to hold events.

Mr Hutchinson said: “Under clause 6 of the bill, the City is able to let out buildings but we were concerned about an initial proposal to have a lease term of 21 years...This was changed to 15 years for most cases and all leases have to be approved on a case-by-case basis by members of the Hampstead Heath Consultative Committee.”

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“The second area for concern was regarding third party commercial use of the heath by businesses such as dog-walkers and fitness instructors. We agree with the City that this needs to be controlled. Clause 10 of the bill allows the City to license commercial activity by third parties on the Heath - as long as no parts of the Heath are enclosed and public enjoyment of the Heath isn’t limited by these activities.”

“The other Clause of concern to the Society was Clause 7 - which regulates the City’s power to stage and manage events on the Heath.

“After working with us, the City has confirmed it has no intention of treating the Heath like a royal park and holding other events such as rock concerts and a “Winter Wonderland”. Structures for events can only be erected on parts of the Heath that are already “built on” such as the car parks, fairgrounds and some sports areas.”

“Finally, the City is required under the Bill to consult with the Hampstead Heath Consultative Committee in relation to, amongst other things, these three key areas. The Hampstead Heath Consultative committee then makes recommendations to the Hampstead Heath Management Committee for the management of the Heath. The Society is looking forward to collaborating further with the City as issues arise.”