Threat to Kenwood trees under plans to recreate historic views on Hampstead Heath

The landscape surrounding Kenwood House could be transformed under plans to recreate historic views – but dozens of trees would have to be felled if the scheme goes ahead.

English Heritage is “exploring” the possibility of restoring the 19th century views from the Grade II-listed Kenwood Dairy cottage, which sits to the west of the main house.

The conservation body has commissioned artist’s impressions and an ecological survey of the site.

But the scheme would involve clearing away several trees, including three large copper beeches which some Hampstead Heath lovers are desperate to protect.

David Lewis, co-ordinator of the Protect Our Ponds Campaign, said: “These three beeches are just magnificent trees. English Heritage is a body that is supposed to be preserving things – not putting a hatchet to them like property developers.

“I want a commitment from English Heritage not to cut them down. There is no tree preservation order protecting them. So if they feel like it, they can come out tomorrow with a chainsaw and just cut them down.”

The dairy cottage is being brought back into use as a home for community and voluntary groups on Hampstead Heath.

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It is being restored as part of a £6million conservation project at Kenwood, which has seen the main house closed since last March. English Heritage is still appealing for donations as it raises the final funds needed.

“Until we know what their plans are, I would suggest people don’t donate to the Kenwood House appeal,” added Mr Lewis. “They may find the money is used for cutting down trees which they rather like.”

English Heritage has pledged to consult with the public before any decision is taken and will meet with the Kenwood Landscape Forum to discuss the options in November.

A spokesman said: “English Heritage is exploring a number of possibilities for the landscape around the Kenwood Dairy, including re-instating the historic views.”

Tony Gilchik, a member of the Kenwood Landscape Forum and chairman of the Hampstead Heath sub-committee at the Heath and Hampstead Society, said: “We’re waiting for some artist’s impressions of exactly what it is they’re trying to restore so we can get an idea of the benefit and what’s best.

“The key thing is to maintain the ‘gentleman’s park’ atmosphere at Kenwood. That’s what we want them to do. It’s not a wild area where things should be allowed to grow.”