‘Fundamental review’ to find £30m savings could hit Hampstead Heath, but City warned not to neglect open spaces

Hampstead Heath - Hill Garden and Pergola

Hampstead Heath - Hill Garden and Pergola - Credit: The City of London Corporation

The City of London Corporation needs to save £30m across its operations by the 2020-2021 financial year and at this early stage, the implications for Hampstead Heath are unclear.

Funding for the Heath comes from the City's Cash - an endowmment fund - from which each year the Hampstead Heath Charity receives £6,318,210. This is supplemented by around £3m from the Heath's trust fund and "grants, sales,

licences, fees and charges".

his money is at risk of being cut during the ongoing "fundamental review" of spending which will see the Heath Consultative Committee work with CoLC officers to "develop options that will enable the Hampstead Heath Division to contribute to the City Corporation's need to save £30 Million by 2020/21".

Stakeholders had confirmed that any move to channel funding away from the Heath to the City itself would be resisted. Marc Hutchinson, chair of the Heath and Hampstead Society said: "They are worried about the medium to long term. We need not worry yet, we knew this was coming."

The review has been set up to mitigate for what the CoLC has called "significant risks and a growing uncertainty" stemming from the Government's next spending review, a business rates reset which will hit the City, and the cost of borrowing to fund its own major capital projects.

Marc added: "All they are doing at the stage is carrying out this review.

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"The points made by those there were that it would be quite wrong to rebalance [the CoLC's] finances towards the city at the expense of open spaces."

Michael Hammerson of the Highgate Society attended. He told this newspaper: "If there were to be any cuts as a result of Government funding reductions, which are clearly a real threat, then a thorough discussion how those cuts should be implemented across the City estate would be understandable.

"However, if cuts were to be made to fundamental City services, such as the Heath, as a result of the need to obtain funding, particularly through City borrowing, for aspirational projects aimed at increasing the City's international standing, such as the new Museum of London or the School of Music, where those cuts fall must be very carefully considered."

A CoLC spokesperson said: "We are committed to making the most efficient and effective use of our resources for the benefit of the City, London and the nation as a whole."

More detailed proposals will be considered over the rest of 2019.