New year message: 'Hampstead Heath has been a godsend in 2020'

H&HS Chair Marc Hutchinson receives picture to commemorate sheep trial.

H&HS Chair Marc Hutchinson receives picture to commemorate sheep trial. Pictures: Diana von R Photography - Credit: Diana Von R Photography

For Hampstead’s Heath and Village this has been a year like no other.

Nevertheless, despite the bad things, there have been many good ones for which to be thankful.

The Heath, with 16 million visits, has taken a real battering, especially around its southern end, but what a godsend it has been to Londoners in lockdown, and how grateful we are to superintendent Bob Warnock and his exhausted team for dealing with so many problems such as litter, free-for-all cycling and illegal encampments.

The Heath will recover eventually but one change which is here to stay is surely the increase in visitor numbers, and as a consequence more areas of the Heath temporarily fenced off for soil decompaction and grass regeneration.

The shops and restaurants in the village have suffered grievously but the "streateries" were a big success, many restaurants continue to survive on takeaway and deliveries, and abandoned shops are now being refurbished for reopening with new retailers.

A painted tile has been presented to staff at the Royal Free. It will be displaced at the World Peace Garden near to the...

A painted tile has been presented to staff at the Royal Free. It will be displaced at the World Peace Garden near to the hospital. Pictured are artist Melissa Fairbanks, Marc Hutchinson of the Heath & Hampstead Society, organiser Jonathan Bergman and Kate Stemeck, chief exec of tthe Royal Free Hospital. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

The society has continued its work on every front – planning, town amenity and the Heath - throughout this time and is looking forward, as are we all, to a much better 2021. In that spirit, we wish all Ham&High readers a very happy new year.

  • Marc Hutchinson is chair of the Heath & Hampstead Society.

READ MORE: Civic groups united against decision to ditch Heath committees

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