Agenda item

Superintendent's Update

Report of the Superintendent of Hampstead Heath.


Members considered an update report of the Superintendent and the following headlines and comments were made:


·         There has been a huge uptake in tennis participation in 2020 with increases of 196% for Golders Hill, 254% for Queen’s Park and 150% for Parliament Hill for the period 16 May–30 June compared to the same period in 2019.


·         The Superintendent updated Members on three planning applications:


o   Boncara, 35 Templewood. A planning representation had been made regarding the basement and its impact on a nearby veteran tree.


o   Jack Straws Castle. A planning representation was submitted by the City Corporation regarding the impact of massing, traffic and parking.


o   Lido Temporary Fence. Members were advised that Camden had requested additional information concerning the Corporation’s application for a temporary fence for 3 months per year for the Lido. 


·         The Superintendent commended staff and Managers who had been working double shifts and praised the community groups and volunteers in responding to requests for help with issues such as waste and recycling. The Chairman endorsed this and welcomed more recruits via Heath Hands whilst emphasising that participants should use gloves and other protective equipment to ensure their safety.


·         The car parks set aside space at Royal Free – now returned to heath.


·         All public toilets and cafés have now re-opened with playgrounds and trails reopening slowly to ensure safety.


·         A Member queried if the Corporation had any input into the Millfield Lane road restrictions. The Superintendent confirmed the team had not inputted but the Fitzroy Park Residents Association had been in touch with Camden as it felt this needed revisiting and Officers were keeping note of developments.



The Merton Lane scheme was in need of amendment and a meeting had been scheduled with Camden this week to discuss further. The Chairman had been in touch with Camden Councillor responsible.  It was noted that the situation was particularly bad at weekends with cyclists, children and pedestrians all forced into a narrow space.  



Superintendent acknowledged that, during the recent hot spell, the waste control system had been overwhelmed.  Learning was in place from this: i.e.  – the bins need to be carefully positioned to collect waste as visitors leave but not too close to the perimeters to allow surrounding premises to use them.  Visitors do not like touching the bins and they have therefore been left open.  Different coloured bins have caused confusion and this system is being improved.

Any prospects for reaching Option 1?  Between March and May Option 1 was working and people were being very compliant.  When there was a vast increase in numbers after 13th May, it did not work as well.  There is still a longer-term strategy for community care for the Heath but a full sign up for Option 1 needs more research and behavioural changes.  Officers were working with ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ in this respect.    

Open spaces to the South of London only provide dog waste bins and encourage visitors to take rubbish home.  Issues on Heath are common to other parks across London; however, it was noted that some visitors go on to other venues in London after visiting the Heath and, therefore, might not take litter home with them. 

Option 4 – flexibility in the winter months could reduce the number of bins and more visitors at this time are likely to be local.

Concern was expressed re nitrous oxide use on the Heath and Members noted that it was not illegal to be in possession but illegal to sell or supply it.  Anyone using this as a legal high would be challenged.  

The Superintendent would keep Members updated over the summer, noting the need for flexibility during the hot weather peaks.  A further iteration of the handling system was expected later in the week.   Open Spaces would need to engage a contractor in the short term but will mobilise its own team to take on the work.


The Superintendent confirmed there were no largescale changes planned and officers were working with schools and local authorities to investigate a better solution to car usage.  The Policy was appropriate but there was room for improvement and better co-ordination with Camden. The overarching issue remained the highway network around the heath and whilst cyclists were welcome they should park at the perimeter cycle parks. Some comments had been passed to the Town Clerk ahead of the meeting :

-          John Weston – against more transport being built on the Heath or further cycling

-          Heath for Feet – cycling – the Chairman would provide a detailed response.



There was some discussion about cyclists being a potential danger to pedestrians, which had been exacerbated by Covid-19.  Members felt that this was a good time to be pro-active in reviewing cycling, rather than waiting until 2024.  There was several comments in support of this, noting the concerns for pedestrian safety and more comments in respect of narrow pavements and trees and diversions  causing pollution hot spots in the surrounding areas.

Electric bikes were required to keep to the max 12mph speed limit and electric scooters were prohibited in the by-laws.  The Government were considering whether they would be legalised on the highway and Open Spaces Officers would follow this carefully.   A piece of work was underway by the Government as to whether they will be legalised on highways and officers would follow this carefully.  Concern was particularly raised over the number of cyclists on Sandy Heath.  Members felt that the Team had done well in trying to control this, but it was still an issue. The Heath and Hampstead Society’s will work with Camden to improve cycle safety on the roads surrounding the Heath and Members noted comments in the last issue of the Ham and High.  






·         Members views on the preferred long-term option for waste and recycling are sought;


·         Members give feedback on whether the policy position on Cycling, as outlined in paragraph 26 should be reviewed to reflect the urgency represented by Covid-19 in relation to encouraging communities to commute by walking and cycling.

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