Historic Hampstead leaks spark fresh anger as hosepipe ban looms

Furious residents have complained that thousands of gallons of water have been allowed to run to waste in Hampstead as London prepares itself for a hosepipe ban.

Water shortages have sparked fresh anger among the village community that long-running leaks have gone untreated.

One burst pipe in East Heath Road has gushed water for more than a year.

Another in New End Square, on the doorstep of Grade I listed Burgh House, has cost the museum hundreds of pounds in lost business.

Thames Water has left an open crater in the ground, blocking off the road to the popular wedding venue, which will host a reception later this month and the local couple are furious the road could still be closed.

Kate Streeter, general manager of Burgh House, said: “Brides who have booked in and walk past must think to themselves what is happening to the house. We get angry phone calls saying, ‘My great aunt so and so is in a wheelchair and I can’t get her to the house’.

“It has badly affected business. The cafe relies on passing trade and if the road looks blocked we lose around 20 per cent.”

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Former Camden Council environment boss Cllr Chris Knight claimed the leaks spring from damaged Victorian water mains – part of the Thames Water network which feeds Hampstead’s homes.

A spokeswoman for Thames Water denied that Victorian pipes were to blame and claimed the high pressure at which water is pumped through the pipes has caused the leaks.

Peter Burian, from the Vale of Health, has written to environment minister Caroline Spelman to complain about the waste of water from leaks in East Heath Road, at the junction with Well Walk and Downshire Hill.

Mr Burian, also vice chairman of Hampstead Town Safer Neighbourhood police panel said: “This stuff has been oozing away since 2010.

“It’s such a waste of water and money – especially now we have this water ban coming in.

“That water trickling down towards South End Green could be really dangerous as well for unsuspecting drivers cruising down East Heath Road on a nice summer’s day.”

Thames Water plans to bring in hosepipe bans on April 5 after two unusually dry winters.

The Environment Agency has also warned of severe drought this summer, even if rainfall returns to average levels.

A spokeswoman from Thames Water said: “We are really sorry for the length of time it has taken to repair these leaks.

“We are fixing an average of 1,000 leaks a week at the moment and we have to prioritise the biggest ones first.

“That’s not to say all leaks are not important and we are doing everything we can to get every leaking pipe fixed as soon as possible.”

The issue is set to be discussed at a council environment scrutiny committee meeting on April 16.