2017 – The Hampstead Heath Scheme in Central London: a Headache!

Dr Andy Hughes

On Hampstead Heath in Central London, just 3 kilometres from the centre of the city, there are more than 20 dams and reservoirs set within the landscape setting of Hampstead Heath. A number of dams were built in the 16th century and formed the original water supply to the City of London. They are set in a landscape laid out by the world renowned Humphrey Repton.Three of the embankments which are laid out in two chains of reservoirs across the Heath are subject to safety legislation in the UK. As such they were identified as being deficient in spillway capacity and thus fairly significant works were required to be carried out in this sensitive setting.The Heath is protected by the Hampstead Heath Act of 1870 which seeks to prevent significant changes to the Heath and thus it was quite clear that there would be opposition to any works on the Heath, even though they were required by law to protect persons and property downstream. In fact a significant lobby group formed which challenged the need for the works and also the legislation of the UK via a judicial review. This paper will describe the process by which significant stakeholder consultation was undertaken (costing more than £2M), the judicial review that took place in the Royal Courts of Justice, the option study and the major engineered elements carried out on the Heath.

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