Agenda item

Superintendent's Update

Report of the Superintendent of Hampstead Heath.



The Superintendent provided an update on recent operational and management activities that had taken place across the Heath since June 2016. Members considered the following matters:


Business Plan

The Superintendent advised the Committee that the Open Spaces Business Manager would be attending the meeting of the Committee in January to discuss the business planning process and how the Committee could be involved in the formative stages. In response to a query from a Member (Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents’ Association) in relation to the link between the Business Plan and the Hampstead Heath Management Plan, the Superintendent reported that the Open Spaces Business Plan related to wider departmental issues over a period of three years, whereas the Management Plan set strategic objectives for management of the Heath over a ten year period. The Open Spaces Department Business Plan identified large capital projects and department wide programmes and projects, many of which inform management at the local level.


Affordable Art Fair

The Superintendent outlined the outcomes of the recent review of events on the Heath. The proposal to move the Affordable Art Fair to after Easter was supported by the Committee. The withdrawal of GROW London would have an impact on the income from the event, as the change of date and the clash with the Whitsun Fair would not allow for a second event to make use of the tent after the Fair (an early Easter would however allow for further use).



The Committee discussed the recent representations received regarding the Zippo’s Circus licence to use the Lower Fairground, specifically relating to the use of animals in their shows. Representations had been received for and against the Circus (two letters recently received in support were tabled), however, the petition had yet to be received. Members discussed the arguments for and against the circus, noting the following points:


·         The petition was specifically against the use of cats in performances, however, it had been confirmed that the cats would not be used for the next season.

·         Similar protests had been organised against the circus at Brent Cross.

·         Animal welfare inspections had taken place annually, and a Corporation lead investigation had taken place in the previous year. All inspections had found no fault with the conditions in which the animals were kept.

·         The Corporation’s ownership of the zoo at Golders Hill Park and the children’s farm at Queen’s Park could be seen as a demonstration of their stance on animals in captivity.

·         It was noted that many entertainment shows made use of domesticated or trained animals, for example dressage. The protestors had been very selective in protesting against the circus.


Members felt that that a policy should be developed against which applications could be considered. It was not felt that circuses containing exotic animals would be supported. Officers noted that the licence held with Zippo’s circuses did not permit anything other than domestic animals, but agreed to consider the issue of animal’s in circuses within the events policy.


A Member (Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents’ Association) queried whether additional security arrangements would be required if the circus were to return to the Heath the following year. The Superintendent confirmed that a perimeter fence and additional police resources, beyond what the Heath Constabulary could provide, would be required. The cost of these would be recharged to the licencee. In response to a query from a Member (Friends of Kenwood) it was confirmed that prosecutions against those that had been involved in criminal activity at the Circus protests would be pursued where possible.


Open Spaces Bill

It was confirmed that the Freedom of Information request submitted by the Kennel Club was in relation to the reporting of enforcement action against dog owners.


Capital Projects

The Superintendent explained the seven stages of the Gateway process which allowed capital projects over £50,000 to be considered. The formative stage, Gateway 0, requires inclusion in the Open Spaces Department Business plan; with Gateway 1 being an evaluation by Chief Officers. The Superintendent reported that in future, projects would be brought before the Consultative Committee at the business planning stage. It was felt this would allow Members to consider the Projects at the formative stage. The East Heath car park, The Adventure Playground, The Hive conversion and the Parliament Hill visitors’ hub were given as examples of projects that would be progressing through the gateway process. The Superintendent reported that these projects would be brought before the Consultative Committee at Gateway 2, prior to submitting for approval to the Project Sub-Committee. Members were supportive of being involved in the early stages of project planning, and noted that input in the development of the business plan would further help this.


In response to a request from a Member (Heath and Hampstead Society) the Town Clerk undertook to circulate an explanation of the Gateway process.



The Superintendent provided an update on the work of the Café Working Party. Three meetings had so far been held and visits to other establishments had taken place. A further workshop had been planned to evaluate the results of the consultation, for which approximately 1500 responses had been received (the majority of which had been submitted online). It was confirmed that the campaign team had been involved in the process throughout.


In response to a query from a Member (Highgate Society) it was confirmed that the final meeting of the Working Group, where a recommendation on the best way to progress would be formulated, would need to return to the Membership that had been agreed in the Terms of Reference. A report on the outcome of the final meeting would be reported to the Committee in January.


It was reported that the proprietor of the Lido Café had now ceased trading. Consultation with users would be undertaken and the next steps would be included in the considerations of the Café Working Party. A Member (London Council for Sport and Recreation) suggested that the possibility of turning it into a “destination” restaurant be considered.



Following the Superintendent’s proposal for the Heath to be classified as a “congested area” and the subsequent banning of drones, a Member (Vale of Health Society) queried the process for a user to gain permission to use drones in specific circumstances. The Superintendent detailed the process required, including permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and agreed that this would be included in the policy.


In response from a query by a Member (Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents’ Association) the Superintendent confirmed that enforcement would be the responsibility of the Metropolitan Police. There were risks associated with a change to the byelaws but it was being considered as an option by some authorities.


Staff Consultation

The consultation period had concluded and the changes to the rotas had been implemented on 1st October 2016. A review of the arrangements would be carried out after six and 12 months.


Further consultations are progressing in relation to the Lifeguards rota, the Constabulary working hours and the out of hours call out rota for staff residing in lodges.



In response to a question from a Member (South End Green Association) it was agreed that the report on the success of the scheme for school children to participate in the ponds project would be circulated. It was noted that a display of the scheme would take place at the opening of the model boating pond island on 18 November 2016.



In response to a question from a Member it was confirmed that the Waterhouse application had gone to appeal, the method of which the appeal will be heard was still to be confirmed. It was further confirmed that the Superintendent will submit an objection to the 114-120 West Heath Road development as the proposals would have an adverse visual impact on the character, appearance and setting of the area when viewed from West Heath and Golders Hill Park.


It was noted that the Orchard Trust are considering replacing a timber boundary adjoining the Heath with a brick wall and railings boundary.


A Member (Highgate Society) drew the Committee’s attention to a consultation being undertaken by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee on basement developments and recommended that the department consider making a submission.




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