The Kenwood concerts are on their way back

CONCERTS at Kenwood House are a step closer to returning, thanks to Camden s licensing chiefs

Marc Mullen

CONCERTS at Kenwood House are a step closer to returning, thanks to Camden's licensing chiefs.

The council's licensing panel has given English Heritage the go-ahead for eight concerts this summer in the grounds of the Grade II-listed building on Hampstead Heath.

The approval granted at the town hall last Thursday night is the first step towards the return of the concerts, which were axed last year for the only time since they started in 1952.

IMG, which will run this year's season of events, is awaiting approval for the new location of the stage before announcing the artists who will perform.

Rebecca Kane, director of visitor operations at English Heritage, said: "The granting of a premises licence is an important and positive step in the process of restoring the concerts.

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"However, we are not there yet. The planning application for the concerts is still be processed by Camden and will not be decided until early April."

The eight concerts will be held between June 28 and August 24 on consecutive Saturday nights, with one 'quiet' weekend in the middle of the programme.

Two years ago residents in Highgate complained to the council about the noise from the concerts, resulting in the cancellation of two concerts and the restricting of audiences to 8,000, rather than the 10,000 applied for.

Before submitting their licence application, English Heritage and IMG held a three-month public consultation on the concerts.

Councillor Nasim Ali, who chaired last Thursday's meeting, said: "We were very impressed with the discussions English Heritage and IMG had with the community.

"The members of the public who made representations at the hearing were in favour of the concerts. It was a good application, worked out with the community, which makes it easy for us on the licensing panel."

In 2006, the last year the concerts were held, there was a floating stage on Thousand Pound Pond, which infuriated the Kenwood Landscape Forum and the Heath and Hampstead Society.

English Heritage has agreed to hold a debrief meeting at the end of the concert programme, to take on board any public concerns. And the plan is to move the stage to the pasture ground to the west of the pond.

The council's planning department will decide on those proposals on April 3.

Tony Hillier, chairman of the Heath and Hampstead Society, said: "I am happy the concerts look like they have returned. They have, albeit reluctantly, responded to the pressure from residents, particularly from Highgate residents.

"With the new site it will be interesting to see what the grass looks like at the end of the summer. We will have to wait and see, but I suppose any problems can be addressed at the debrief meeting."