Agenda item

Superintendent's Update

The Superintendent of Hampstead Heath to be heard.



The Superintendent noted that several meetings had been held to discuss the Hampstead Heath Ponds Project (HHPP) since the last meeting of the committee on 7 April 2014. These had included two Ponds Project Stakeholder Group seminars on a Saturday and Sunday – both followed by an additional session for anyone who could not attend the weekend sessions; a meeting with Brookfield Mansions residents; the Hampstead Heath Angling Society; the Kenwood Ladies Pond Association; Graham White (Senior Wetland Ecologist at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds); a meeting between the London Borough of Camden, City of London and the Heath & Hampstead Society to discuss emergency planning measures; and a meeting with London Borough of Camden’s former Green Councillor, Maya D’Souza.  This week officers would be meeting with Stephen Myers, author of Walking on Water: London’s Hidden Rivers Revealed, and residents adjacent to Highgate No.1. 

            The Superintendent went on to note that BAM Nuttall had completed their initial ground investigations and surveys on 15 May 2014, a fortnight ahead of schedule. Work undertaken included 15 bore holes and 34 trial pits. Some work had been postponed on account of the nesting season, and this would be completed in August 2014. He concluded by noting there would be a meeting of the Camden Development Management Forum later in the coming week, and further meetings with the Kenwood Ladies Pond Association (10 June) and the Ponds Project Stakeholder Group (26 June). It was anticipated that, subject to the decision of the Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood and Queen’s Park Committee on 9 June, that the planning application for the Ponds Project would be submitted to the London Borough of Camden on 4 July 2014.


Planning – Water House

The Superintendent noted that the application had not been formally progressed by the London Borough of Camden since April. Nevertheless he understood that Camden had possession of the basement impact assessment and were discussing this with the developer. He suggested that it was unlikely the proposal would be submitted to a London Borough of Camden Planning Committee before Summer 2014.


Planning – Archway Tower

The Superintendent noted that the application had not been considered by the April meeting of the London Borough of Islington’s Planning Committee and therefore the developer had appealed and resubmitted an application that was likely to be considered on 5 June. He added that the resubmitted application was not considerably different from the original application and therefore the City of London Corporation’s objections and comments on the scheme remained the same.


Planning – Athlone House

Further to the update provided by Susan Rose under Matters Arising, the Superintendent noted that the current application under consideration involving a smaller basement still did not address concerns expressed by the City of London Corporation and therefore the scheme would be objected to.

            Michael Hammerson added that the Highgate Society was concerned that the London Borough of Camden were too focused on the issue of Metropolitan Public Land rather than the wider impact of the proposed development.


Planning – Garden House

The Superintendent noted that a larger scheme for the site had been withdrawn.


Planning – Swains Lane

The Superintendent noted that the scheme remained current and the applicant has responded to numerous objections and comments from the Council by amending the scheme.  Mary Port added that the Dartmouth Park Conservation Area Advisory Committee also had concerns, particularly over the proposed parking arrangements of the new development and that it was hoped - if the scheme went ahead – that alternative road crossings would be provided for visitors attempting to access the Heath.


Property – Parliament Hill Athletics Track

The Superintendent noted that the athletic track showers had been repaired and replaced in time for the 10,000m event on 10 May.


Property – Parliament Hill Lido

The Superintendent noted that repairs to the Lido Café roof would commence in the coming week. The temporary fences have been repositioned to provide as much space on the sun terraces as possible.  The Superintendent is continuing to work with the City Surveyor to complete the re-instatement of the boundary walls in the autumn.


Pergola Belvedere

The Superintendent reported that the staircase was expected to be open to the public in approximately two weeks.


Hill Garden

The Superintendent reported that the Camden Listed Building Consent Officer had agreed that harder render could be used. Tanking works to the stairs would have to be completed first and therefore it was estimated that work could start on site in March 2015. The wall would then need approximately six months to dry out before the older damaged render could be removed and the new hard render applied. 





Golders Hill Park Toilets

The Superintendent reported that the toilets in Golders Hill Park were still closed but that it was hoped new pumps should be installed soon in order for them to be repaired and reopened.


National Grid

The Superintendent noted that restoration work had been carried out at the Education Centre, including the planting of a wildflower garden. Works to install some hedging would take place in the autumn. He added that restoration works to both the Education Centre and the football pitches had been charged to the National Grid.


Network Rail

The Superintendent reported that Network Rail proposals for both a new electricity substation and the installation of new boundary fencing along the southern perimeter of the Heath had been considered by officers. National Rail had been advised that the location of the new substation was considered inappropriate to the wider setting of the Heath and that the design of the proposed boundary fencing was similarly not in keeping with the character of the Heath’s surrounding landscape.



The Superintendent commented that he was satisfied with staff performance for the year 2013/14 and that three Heath staff had been awarded a grade of ‘outstanding’ in the City of London Corporation’s internal annual appraisal process. All staff had now set their 2014/15 objectives in liaison with their senior managers.

            The Superintendent added that a Senior Zoo Keeper had also recently been recruited for the zoo at Golders Hill Park. In response to a question from Colin Gregory, the Superintendent replied that the Zoo Keeper would be employed on an 18-month fixed term contract and given a mandate to establish the true cost of operating the zoo and deal with licensing issues . They would also be expected to draw up a longer term management plan for the zoo to ensure it was financially sustainable.


Hampstead Heath Constabulary Dogs

The Superintendent reported that his informal consultation on a potential restructure of the Hampstead Heath Constabulary had been extended and was now complete. He was currently drafting a report on the issue.


Additional Staff Vehicle

The Superintendent noted that an additional Land Rover was present on the Heath that was on loan from the City of London Corporation’s Department of the Built Environment. The vehicle was ordinarily used to grit difficult-to-access City streets during the winter months and was being used to give the Tree Team greater mobility over the summer period.



Highgate Wood and Queen’s Park Consultative Committee Walk

The Superintendent noted that both the Highgate Wood Joint Consultative Committee and the Queen’s Park Joint Consultative Group were being offered a tour of the Heath ahead of the Queen’s Park Joint Consultative Group’s meeting on 4 June.


Open Spaces Identity Project – Hampstead Heath Branding

The Superintendent reported that the new Hampstead Heath branding had now been launched, with the first example of the new branding being the Hampstead Heath Diary 2014/15. The new branding would become more prevalent as signage across the Heath was updated and replaced.


Green Flag and Green Heritage Inspections

The Superintendent noted that inspectors for both the Green Flag and Green Heritage Award schemes were expected on the Heath over the coming weeks.



The Superintendent reported on recent and forthcoming events on the Heath, highlighting the success of the 10,000m event on 10 May which saw over 75 personal bests set by those taking part. He added that the Leisure and Events Manager was now working with the Highgate Harriers to submit a bid to the London Marathon Trust to secure funding for a repeat of the event in 2015.

            The Superintendent went on to note that construction had begun on temporary structures for the Affordable Art Fair which would open on 11 June, and be followed by Grow London on 19 June.

            He added that Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life was scheduled for 5 July and had proved one of the most popular fundraising events on the Heath to date, given it had seen over £175,000 raised for charity in the last year.

            The Superintendent concluded by listing other forthcoming events on the Heath, including the City Dip on 11-12 July, the City of London Festival on 13 July, and Give it A Go on 20 July.


Conservation Work

The Superintendent highlighted the recent work of the Conservation Team, noting that they had planted three new wildflower areas on the Heath in addition to poppy planting for the First World War Centenary. Other work undertaken by the team included algae clearance from Whitestone Pond, injection treatment to eradicate Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed, reed bed maintenance and clearance of storm damage from the recent period of bad weather between October 2013 – February 2014.

            He added that staff had been working with English Heritage towards the conservation of the area around Kenwood House Dairy, and with the Friends of Queen’s Wood towards the clearance of ponds.  A project had also been completed with Highgate Primary School to help create a new school allotment.




The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

In response to a question from Helen Payne, the Chairman confirmed that the sculpture would remain in Golders Hill Park for up to one year. In response to a further suggestion from Helen Payne, the Operations Services Manager confirmed that the grass around the sculptures would be allowed to grow to ensure they were situated in a semi-rural setting as originally envisaged by the artists.