Fears Kenwood will become an 'entertainment centre' as application lodged

The opening line up at Kenwood House included Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Maximo Park, The Charlatans and James

English Heritage has put in an application for more large events at Kenwood House - Credit: Courtesy of Heritage Live

Fears have been raised that Kenwood House will become a noisy "entertainment district" with more large scale events.

English Heritage has put in a licensing application for an increased number of events over a longer timescale at the estate on Hampstead Heath.

An application for next summer calls for a change from a "maximum of eight entertainments", to a maximum of eight "major event days" per year with an anticipated attendance of "over 10,000 guests".

Both the Heath and Hampstead Society and the Highgate Society have written objection letters to Camden Council.

They say that this variation could be used to justify expansion of events that are not major events but still very large, with up to 9,999 guests.

There are also plans to expand the event season from early June – which the Heath and Hampstead Society notes is a "critical nesting season for the heath's uncommon and distinctive bird species" – until the end of September.

The last time summer concerts were held at Kenwood was 2013. Picture: CUFFC

Objectors fear Kenwood House will change from a peaceful place to an 'entertainment centre' - Credit: Archant

Marc Hutchinson, chair of HHS, urged the council to reject the application on "public nuisance grounds".

He wrote that a balance has to be struck between the "secondary matter of commercial fundraising events, and their size and frequency, and the primary matter of not degrading the estate and denying public access".

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"We are concerned that the proposed variations to the premises licence upset this balance."

Francis Wilkinson, secretary of the Highgate Society, wrote: "The major effect of the changes is to allow any number of events of up to 9,999 people throughout the year, which is a very major change to the current regime, a change which has the potential to change Kenwood; from a place for visitors to quietly walk…into an entertainment centre."

An English Heritage spokesperson said: “While the historic house and gardens at Kenwood are free to enjoy, they are not free to maintain."  

They said the "handful of events held at Kenwood throughout the year provide a critical source of income for the care and upkeep of the estate".

The charity said it will consult with local residents, Camden Council, the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Corporation.

"It is very important to us to work with our local community at Kenwood and we are open to discussion to allay any concerns raised wherever possible," they said.