Letter to Camden New Journal: The Heath is not "for hire"

[REF: ‘Heath for hire’, Dan Carrier, Thursday 21 January 2016, CNJ]

In response to your editorial and article on Hampstead Heath last week I wanted to reassure your readers on the facts. 

The Heath will not be “for hire”.

The Open Spaces Bill will allow us to better protect visitors across all City-managed open spaces, including Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest, from anti-social behaviour and provide greater opportunity to sustainably re-invest income, made through things like letting empty buildings.

Fairs have been held on the Heath for hundreds of years and events like weddings and band stand concerts are very popular with the public. We will continue to ensure that events are appropriate for the Heath. The Bill also specifically requires any proposals to be developed on a consultative basis.

The obligations in the Hampstead Heath Act 1871 remain, and a lot of care has been taken to draft the Bill with our local partners in a way that protects the Heath from commercial exploitation.

No one is trying to despoil the Heath. In fact the City Corporation has invested over £50million in the last five years with no contribution from the taxpayer.

Of course there will always be debate about Heath policy.

But there should also be recognition that since 1989 it has been managed in an open and inclusive way, with 19 different local groups belonging to its Consultative Committee - including the Heath & Hampstead Society and the Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents Association – with additional consultations with user groups and the wider community.

And the Heath Management Committee includes elected representatives from Camden and Barnet councils, English Heritage, RSPB, the Open Spaces Society and the Heath & Hampstead Society.

Sue Ireland
Director of Green Spaces, City of London Corporation