Green light for Hampstead Heath dog walking restrictions

Dog walkers on Hampstead Heath. Picture: Polly Hancock

Dog walkers on Hampstead Heath - Credit: Archant

The number of dogs that can be walked on Hampstead Heath is set to be restricted under new licensing rules. 

Walkers will only be allowed to take up to four dogs on the Heath and will also be limited to certain areas.  

The new rules mean that 70 professional dog walkers will be allowed to apply for a license to walk dogs on the Heath, as well as in Queen’s Park and Highgate Wood. 

More than 5,000 people previously signed a petition against the new licences " to save dog walkers”. 

Revised details of the scheme were approved on Wednesday (September 29) by the City of London Corporation at a meeting of its Hampstead Heath management committee.   

The group’s chair Cllr Anne Fairweather said: “We have delayed this scheme because of Covid and the lockdown and I do think because it has hung over for nearly a year it has also created a fair bit of uncertainty for people running those businesses.  

“So I am keen that we do grant this delegated authority after our debate and get the scheme up and running.” 

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Concerns have been raised that dog walkers were taking 10 dogs or more at once on the Heath, with fears over the animals’ impact to local wildlife.  

The licensing scheme has been backed by the RSPCA but professional dog walkers believe that the change could seriously damage business. 

When the idea was first suggested, campaigners from the Hampstead Professional Dog Walkers Association said: “The measures proposed are so arbitrary and so draconian that more than 60 successful, small and medium-sized enterprises, built with love and hard work over the years, will be forced to close as a result of the changes.” 

The group added: “If people are unable to access reliable dog daycare services it could have devastating repercussions for our customers and the dogs involved.” 

The City of London Corporation, which runs the Heath, has been consulting representative organisations and has even used heat maps to figure out which areas are most popular. 

The municipal governing body even discussed limiting dog walkers from only being allowed to walk their dogs in the mornings (7am to midday) or afternoons (midday to 5 pm) – but it has since scrapped that idea. 

A date for start of the licensing scheme is yet to be confirmed, having previously been lined up for October.