Agenda item

Superintendent's Update

The Superintendent to be heard.



The Committee received a verbal update from the Superintendent regarding the following Hampstead Heath matters:



The Superintendent of Hampstead Heath advised the Committee that the Open Spaces Department was required to find £2.189 million of savings over the next three years. Members were advised that savings were weighted to the final year, with £595,000 savings required in 2015/16, £682,000 required in 2016/17 and £912,000 required in 2017/18. A new grant application would be submitted to Bridge House Estates in 2015 to fund education and volunteer programmes within the Department. This represented a significant contribution towards the 2015/16 required savings of £595,000. In response to a question from Susan Rose, the Superintendent explained that of the £2.189 million of savings, £835,000 were required from Hampstead Heath assuming that the application to Bridge House Estates was successful.


The proposals would be developed across three areas: activities, operational efficiencies, and generating income. Activities would continue to be delivered to a high standard, whilst looking at the possibility of using third-party providers for sports facilities, attracting sponsorships for sports events, and increasing the income generated. Fees and charges and the development of new income streams would be reviewed across the Department. A significant area of work would focus on increasing income from the refreshment concessions across the Department as well as looking to develop new concessions.


In response to question from Richard Sumray, the Superintendent advised that further reports would be presented to the Consultative Committee as proposals were developed.


In response to a question from Jeremy Wright, the Chairman advised that the Open Spaces Department had not been required to contribute an undue proportion of savings compared to other departments; the Open Spaces Department was in a position to bid for Bridge House Estates funding, unlike most other departments.



The Superintendent advised that Dog Control at Burnham Beeches would begin on 1 December 2014 and would be reviewed after 18 months, at which point a report regarding the possibility of introducing further controls at the Heath would be presented to the Committee.


In response to a question from Colin Gregory, the Superintendent advised that the proportion of restricted areas at Burnham Beeches had been reduced to around half the site due to representations and objections.




Parking Consultations

The London Borough of Barnet had carried out a consultation on parking restrictions on Wildwood Road, adjacent to Hampstead Heath Extension.  The City was satisfied that the proposal would not have an operational impact on the management of the Heath and would not significantly affect parking facilities for visitors to the Heath.


The London Borough of Camden was undertaking consultation on Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) on CA-U, Highgate. They were currently seeking views as to whether CPZs should be introduced at weekends. Members were advised that the City opposed the introduction of Sunday restrictions, and changes to the current CPZ arrangements.



Replacement of the gates and posts at the Lido entrance from Gordon House Road commenced in late September 2014.  Morton Partnership Ltd had been appointed to carry out the design work for rebuilding of the Lido boundary wall. Draft designs were expected shortly and repairs would be undertaken between March and May 2015. In addition, the City Surveyor’s Departments would be undertaking works to the Lido Café building as part of the Additional Works Programme. This work was scheduled to be carried out between November 2014 and April 2015.


Golders Hill Park

Members were advised that the toilets near the children’s playground reopened in July 2014 and had operated successfully throughout the school summer holidays. The Park Team would arrange more regular tank cleaning and the City Surveyor’s Department continued to investigate a longer-term solution.




Archway Tower

The Superintendent reported that the planning appeal submitted by Essential Living was granted by the Planning Inspectorate on 7 August 2014.


The Water House

The Superintendent advised that he had appointed Consultants to undertake a critical review of the applicant’s documentation regarding the impact of construction traffic on Millfield Lane.


Athlone House

The applicant submitted an appeal for non-determination of this planning application on 20 June 2014.  Camden Council progressed the application to Committee and determined that had an appeal not been lodged, the Council would have refused planning permission.  Three reasons for refusal were given; which related to the impact on Metropolitan Open Land, the lack of a Basement Impact Assessment and the lack of a legal agreement requiring sustainable construction.


The Council’s notification letters of the appeal to third parties were sent out on 2 September 2014, which gave four weeks to submit comments to the Planning Inspectorate.  Following an intervention from the Highgate Society, this was extended to the end of October 2014. 


Members were advised that the Comptroller & City Solicitor had instructed a barrister from Landmark Chambers to provide advice and guidance on the submission of further evidence to the Planning Inspector.  The Superintendent had also instructed a Consultant to review the additional information prepared by the applicant relating to the Basement Impact Assessment and impacts on hydrology.


A pre-inquiry meeting was held with the Inspector for all interested parties on 22 October 2014.  The City applied to be included as a Rule 6 Party at the up-coming Inquiry.  The City’s role at the Inquiry would be largely supportive to the Planning Authority but would recognise the City’s stewardship role of the Heath. The City would proffer its own case on the detrimental impact on Metropolitan Open Land posed by the proposed development. Members were advised that the Inquiry date was 10 February 2015 and it was currently due to run for 12 days.



The Superintendent advised Members that five ceremonies had taken place during the summer: four on the Pergola and one in the Hill Garden. The feedback received from attendees had been very positive. There were currently six confirmed bookings scheduled for 2015 and a further two bookings for which deposits were expected shortly.



Members were advised of the following recruitment matters:-

·         The new Senior Zoo Keeper & Engagement Officer had now been in post for 11 weeks.

·         A City Business Trainee was based at Heathfield House for seven weeks.  She had worked on the Weddings & Civil Ceremonies brochure as part of her internship, as well as undertaking 60-second surveys at Highgate Wood, Queen’s Park and Parliament Hill.

·         A vacant post in the Tree Team had now been filled, returning this team to a full complement of 4 staff by the end of the year.

·         Two new Constabulary Officers had been recruited internally and were likely to start in early December 2014.



The Superintendent advised that the Hampstead Heath Constabulary had responded to 1,627 incidents as of the end of September 2014, which resulted in 12 arrests and 714 formal warnings/Penalty Charge Notices (car parking) where a Hampstead Heath byelaw had been breached. The arrests included a wanted sex offender, who was arrested on West Heath on two separate occasions, and two suspects who were arrested outside the Men’s Pond after stealing property from swimmers.


Members were also advised that the Constabulary had been restructured to comprise of two Sergeants, eight Constables and two Constable/Dog Handlers.


In response to a question from Colin Gregory, the Superintendent advised that three prosecutions took place in September 2014: one person was fined £90 for a Dog Control offence; one person was fined £220 plus £375 costs for a Dog Control offence; and one person was fined £55 twice plus £100 costs for a cycling offence.


Dog Control Action Plan

The next phase of the Action Plan would include a meeting with dog walkers who use the Heath.  The Constabulary would be inviting dog walkers of three or more dogs to an awareness and engagement event on the Heath to facilitate a ‘user group’ atmosphere and provide advice on all aspects of how the Heath supports responsible dog walking.



The Superintendent advised he was working with the Head of Historic Properties from English Heritage to develop a new scheme of joint signage which would be installed at all major entry points to both the Heath and Kenwood Estate. The signs would include a large scale map, information about facilities and activities across the sites as well as acknowledging HLF’s contribution to the ‘Caring for Kenwood’ and the ‘Wild About Hampstead Heath’ Projects.  They would also promote the work of Heath Hands and set out visitor’s responsibilities.


Members were advised that a joint report seeking approval to install the signs would be presented to the Kenwood Landscape Forum and the Consultative and Management Committees in early 2015.



The Superintendent reported that Golders Hill Park was awarded a London in Bloom Gold Award for Large Parks over 25 acres in September 2014 and was also the category winner.