Hampstead Heath dams: is this really how they are going to look?

Hampstead Heath dams

The City of London’s image of how it says flood defences at the Heath poinds will look, and, below, how objectors say views will be wrecked

Published: 17 January, 2014

HAMPSTEAD Heath managers the City of London have been accused by an influential civic group of running a scare campaign over plans to build huge dams at the Heath ponds.

The City is running a public consultation – ending in the second week of February – to gauge views on its £15m scheme that will see the Highgate and Hampstead ponds have their banks raised by up to three metres.

The Heath and Hampstead Society, which is fighting the proposals, published two leaflets this week to rally support as it campaigns to get the City to change its mind on what the group says is an unnecessary project.

The society maintains it will cause long-term damage to the Heath and that it isn’t legally necessary, as the City claims.

Its leaflets accuse the City of running a PR campaign that is riddled with inaccuracies. The leaflets include mocked-up pictures of how the group believes the ponds will really look if the scheme goes ahead.

Society member Helen Marcus said: “The pictures they are asking for comments on are misleading. They do not truly show the serious and harmful visual changes these works will cause.”

She added that the consultation was too narrow in its scope.

“They are only offering two options. There are a whole series of other parts of the scheme that are not even being consulted on,” she said.

But the City has countered the claims, saying the society has not properly understood the project and that it is legally obliged to build dams to end the threat of a catastrophic flood that would swamp homes downstream of the Heath reservoirs.

Heath management committee chairman Jeremy Simons said: “Our own pictures of these much-needed safety works are detailed and accurate.

“We are confident that anybody who examines these for themselves will realise we are taking a measured approach to a very real public safety issue.

“We have gone to great lengths in the last 18 months to engage and develop proposals which balance the protection of the Heath’s wonderful landscape with safety improvements which are required – and our proposals reflect this.”

• THE United Swimmers Association, which represents people who use the ponds, is holding a public meeting at 8pm on Monday, February 10, at the United Reformed Church, in Pond Square, Highgate.