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Camden News - by DAN CARRIER
Published: 5 February 2009
Heath road plan to be considered ‘in detail’

Campaigners claim decision was rushed through

THE proposal to build a new road on Hampstead Heath was rushed through as the City of London scrambled to put together a £4 million bid for funds to improve Parliament Hill Fields, say members of the Heath’s own consultative committee who had to give the plans their blessing.
The scheme, partly paid for by National Lottery cash, covers Parliament Hill Fields and includes landscaping, building a new café, opening up the cricket pitch to create a village green feel, work on the running track pavilion and improvements to the Lido.
But controversially it also includes a new road running from the Gordon House Road entrance to the Parliament Hill staff yard. Objectors warn the plans go against the principle that the Heath should be left untouched and free from development.
The Heath consultative committee, made up of Heath users and representatives from local groups, met to discuss the bid in September. They were pushed by Heath managers from the City of London to rubber stamp the scheme as the package had to be on the desks of Lottery chiefs by the end of the month.
Now senior committee figures say once the cash has been banked, they will want to look at the fine details of the plans once more before work starts – giving hope to campaigners such as film director Ken Loach and TV star Michael Palin, who have spoken out against the scheme.
The Heath and Hampstead Society has a place on the committee and have backed the plans. Chairman Tony Hillier said: “The time scale to prepare and consult on this plan and bid was extremely short.
“The City of London consulted about 20 local organisations on the Heath consultative committee, who then unanimously approved this conceptual plan as a basis for the bid.
“If successful, all elements would be subject to detailed design and much wider public consultation.”
Their views have been echoed by Heath consultative committee member Jeremy Wright, who said he felt the final plans were still open for discussion.
Mr Wright added: “It is only conceptual. If the bid is jeopardised because some users feel passionately and are not aware of this background to the bid then there is a strong risk that the bid will be scuppered and all the benefits lost.
“We call on all Heath lovers to support the bid and defer any concerns until the outcome from the Lottery is confirmed.”
But the City of London denied the scheme had been hurriedly designed.
A spokesman said: “Consultation was undertaken. It will help transform the area between Parliament Hill and the Lido into a more rural and pedestrian-friendly part of the Heath.”
Objector Ros Bayley said she felt the consultative committee had not reflected the views of people living in the Lissenden Gardens or Gospel Oak area.
She said: “We are not represented on the committee. People seem to think the southern part is not really the Heath anyway. Central to the bid is that the plans will improve access for the disadvantaged. With this road, it won’t happen.”

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