Hampstead Heath is fortunate in having about 30 beautiful and much-loved ponds. View an aerial map of the ponds (632KB). Although they look natural, most are formed by dams which are up to 300 years old. Three of the ponds are large enough to be classed as 'large raised reservoirs' under the Reservoir Act 1975.
Keeping North London safe from dam collapse
The City of London is responsible for ensuring that the pond dams on Hampstead Heath are safe. Works are needed to prevent the dams from failing in extreme rainfall and major storms. We aim to limit the works while making the dams safe and minimising the impact on the natural environment of the Heath.
We have been consulting on the Ponds Project since July 2012 and finished a period of more formal public consultation in February 2014. This consultation was focussing on design options and the results will influence the final chosen design. There will be a further consultation when a detailed planning application is submitted.
The key issue is that the dams, which are made of earth, could be breached in an extreme rainstorm. We have been advised by our Supervising Engineer that we need to take action to minimise the risk to life, property and infrastructure.
Some people believe the City should do nothing while other suggest it should do a lot less than is proposed. Our view is that the dams need work, and that carefully designed proposals on which it has been consulting will meet the standards that those living downstream have a right to expect and which are common to other similar dams in England.
'Green-Plating': preserving the landscape and habitat
The proposals have been developed over the past two years with substantial involvement of local user and resident groups through workshops and meetings facilitated by an independent landscape architect. The proposals take into full account the need to preserve the Heath's landscape and habitat. We have used this opportunity to propose some enhancements, including new paths, viewpoints and reed-beds, as well as ways of improving water quality. If anything, the scheme has been 'green-plated', as we work with landscape architects, ecologists, hydrologists and engineers to ensure that the works will have minimum negative impact and, along the way improve water quality and biodiversity.
See Keeping North London Safe (2.85MB) for further information and images of some of the proposals on the Hampstead Heath dams safety project, February 2014.
Information Giving and Consultation - 26 November 2013 - 17 February 2014
The City gave out information and consulted on the work between 26 November 2013 and 17 February 2014. The results of this consultation are available in a full report (1MB) and a summary document (121KB).
A Glossary of Terms (19KB) has been produced to aid understanding of the project.
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