Breaking news: Conservationists lose High Court battle against Hampstead Heath ponds project

Members of the Heath swimming associations outside the Royal Courts of Justice. Eve Featherstone fro

Members of the Heath swimming associations outside the Royal Courts of Justice. Eve Featherstone from the Kendwood Ladies Pond Association. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Polly Hancock

The Heath and Hampstead Society has lost its High Court battle against the controversial £15million ponds project.

The judge, Mrs Justice Beverly Lang, rejected the conservation group’s judicial review challenge.

She announced her verdict at the High Court this morning – delivering a hammer blow to the hopes of conservationists desperate to save the Heath from being “permanently disfigured”.

They say the flood defences project is the greatest threat to the Heath in generations, but Mrs Justice Lang rejected their claims that it is irrational or legally flawed.

The City of London Corporation, which manages the Heath and has proposed the project, now has the green light to go ahead with its plans.

However, the Corporation still has to win planning permission from Camden Council for its scheme to enlarge dams and build new ones across the Heath.

The Heath and Hampstead Society, which brought the judicial review proceedings, is likely to continue to vigorously oppose the project.

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Chairman Marc Hutchinson has previously indicated it will lobby Parliament to stop the scheme should the High Court challenge fail.

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.

More to follow.

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