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Review of Hampstead Heath swimming arrangements could see prices upped as bosses deal with record number of visits

PUBLISHED: 14:11 10 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:45 11 January 2020

Mixed bathing ponds in Hampstead Heath

Mixed bathing ponds in Hampstead Heath

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Changes could be afoot at the Hampstead Heath bathing ponds after the City of London Corporation (CoLC) announced a new “review” of swimming facilities in light of a record number of visitors taking a dip in 2019.

The CoLC, which manages Hampstead Heath, said the review was to "make sure it is ready for the upcoming summer season".

This month it will begin discussions with swimmers and swimming groups over how best to update policy and facilities to ensure "a safe and enjoyable experience".

The CoLC said the review will cover lifeguarding provision after it was given advice by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). It could see charging arrangements for using the bathing ponds change.

The Kenwood Ladies Pond Association has welcomed the review.

In a statement, it said: "All of us who swim in the ponds on Hampstead Heath are aware that the numbers of visitors have increased dramatically in recent years as interest in outdoor swimming has grown.

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"The KLPA welcomes the opportunity to discuss with the City how swimming can continue to be managed safely and sensitively for the enjoyment of both regular swimmers and occasional visitors."

Karina Dostalova, who chairs the CoLC's heath management committee, said: "We recognise the growing popularity of the Heath's swimming facilities as an opportunity for Londoners to step away from their busy lives.

"We want to make sure that we have the right resources in place to serve this purpose and maintain visitor safety."

Charging for swimming in the ponds was introduced to widespread dismay in 2005, via an honesty box system. Plans for this to be made compulsory were mooted in 2012, but never came to fruition.

The CoLC has made clear the review will not necessarily see the charges for outdoor swimming increase.

It is as yet unknown what the HSE's advice to the Heath management team was.

What do you think about potential changes to how swimming works on the Heath? Contact Sam on the newsdesk using 02074330120 and Sam.Volpe@Archant.co.uk, or write to our letters pages at letters@hamhigh.co.uk

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