Category Archives: In the media

Future of Mansfield site to be decided today

The future of the former Mansfield Bowling Club is likely to be decided at the Council Chamber today in a meeting due to start at 7pm. Local action groups, protesting at the loss of the site as a historic local sporting amenity, are hoping for a large turnout to demonstrate against the proposed housing scheme.

‘The Council Officers have done a u-turn and are now recommending approval. Our delegation will need strong support and a demonstration of our fury if the Committee is to reject the Application. Please come if you possibly can. We all know that when the Officers are trying to push through a bad decision it comes up just before a holiday.’ Keith Northrup, Chairman of the Mansfield Neighbours Group.

The project would see 21 houses built, including 11 affordable homes. It would also have three tennis courts, a clubhouse, a “pocket park” and a contribution of £600,000 to the Town Hall to be spent on sporting facilities elsewhere.

Mansfield sporting facilities

For more information on the objections to the proposal, see the group’s full response here.

The story is covered in depth in the Camden New Journal and the Ham & High.

Update from City of London on Hampstead Heath play facilities

Further to my recent email, I wanted to take the opportunity to provide an update now that the review has been completed and the plans for the future of the facilities have been determined.

One O’ Clock Club

The One O’ Clock Club (OOCC), at Hampstead Heath, will continue to run year-round, Monday to Friday, between 1pm and 3pm.  A small charge will be necessary which, will be reinvested into running the service, further details will be provided in the New Year.

It was very clear from feedback that this facility holds an important place in the community and I wanted to update you on the future arrangements.  The City will be creating a new post of Play and Learning Project Officer, who will work across both the OOCC and Adventure Playground.  They will be supported by a part-time Play Leader at the OOCC.

 Adventure Playground

While there will be some changes to the operating hours of this facility, it will continue to offer a range of opportunities for young people.

  • After school sessions will continue from April to October 3.15pm to 5pm (3.15pm to 6pm during July & August).
  • The Saturday play sessions will continue April to October during term time from 10am to 4pm.
  • A school holiday programme will continue to operate Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm.

As is the case for the OOCC, a small charge will be necessary.  The equipment at the Adventure Playground is being reviewed to enable children over 8 to access the playground outside of the sessions detailed above.

In addition, the City of London Open Spaces Department is developing a new Learning Programme which will be responsible for school sessions across the Heath.  It will also introduce new projects for young people to learn about and experience nature.  These new schemes will include a natural play project for families with children under the age of 5 and another working with young people not in employment to develop valuable work-related skills.

The input from staff and the public has been appreciated, and this feedback has been helpful in assisting us move towards a more focussed learning and play offer for children from the Heath’s local communities.  It is clear that there is a great deal of support for these facilities.  The City of London will actively seek to engage with the local community to help develop these valued facilities for the future.

I hope that this information explains the plan to continue to provide play facilities on the Heath, while introducing new projects for young people to learn about and experience nature.

 Best wishes


Yvette  Hughes

Business Manager – Hampstead Heath

Telephone: 020 7332 3977

Fax: 020 8348 1677


Corporation of London responds to protest over closure of Hampstead Heath play facility


The DPNF have received a reply (see letter below) from Yvette Hughes, Business Manager – Hampstead Heath, in response to the concerns expressed by members of the community to the possible closure of the very popular children facilities on Hampstead Heath.

Since it’s launch in October over 2,170 have signed a petition against the proposed cuts to these facilities that have provided local children with access to play and learning for many years.

While this response confirms that the paddling pool will continue to operate as before, it does not give a clear picture of what the plans are for the adventure playground or the 1 O’ clock club from March 2016.

Given the incredible response in the community to the threat of closure it would seem pertinent that the Corporation of London consultation procedure is extended to include the members of the local community who depend on the facility for their families.

Here is the letter from Yvette Hughes in full:

Thank you for your email regarding the facilities at Hampstead Heath, which has been passed to me by the Director of Open Spaces, Sue Ireland.

It is clear that are concerned about the  reports which you may have seen or heard regarding budget cuts and redundancies.  Unfortunately, the articles are inaccurate and misleading.  The City of London is not closing services on the Heath and will continue to provide a first class experience for all who visit.  Like any accountable public services provider we have a responsibility to make sure we are providing an efficient and effective service, in order to achieve the best results for our local communities.

London is growing quickly and the more people use our sites, the more we need to make sure they are fit for the future. Long term sustainability is key to achieving our overall purpose of preserving and protecting world class green spaces for the benefit of our local communities and the environment.

As part of this work we are running a staff consultation asking for their views, ideas and suggestions on how we can deliver some services more effectively, potentially supplemented by income generation in some areas, where that is appropriate. We will then consider how any services should change in light of their feedback.

 Adventure Playground & One O‘ Clock Club Commitment

The City Corporation will continue to operate both facilities with potential changes to the opening times, winter opening arrangements and introducing charges.  The after school and Saturday sessions at the Adventure Playground will continue along with a school holiday programme.  The proposals include creating a new post of Play and Learning Project Officer to run the children’s play sessions with a stronger focus on wildlife and the Heath’s natural environment.  The City Corporation will continue to licence and support the Queen’s Crescent Community Association who provide the morning Ten O’ Clock Club at the Peggy Jay Centre.

Parliament Hill Playground Commitment

The playground will remain open as usual, although parents and guardians will be required to supervise the young children in their care.  The City Corporation will continue to maintain the facility including litter collection, toilet cleaning, playground safety inspections and through regular maintenance.  The supervision and maintenance of the paddling pool will continue as normal.

Education commitment

The current level of funding for education will increase, supplemented with further funding opportunities from grant applications.  The City Corporation is consulting staff on realigning the play and education services with our new learning framework to ensure the best possible outcomes for the students and teachers.  The new learning programme, which will involve the Adventure Playground and One O’ Clock Club will focus on the Heath’s natural environment and will aim to encourage young people from local communities to become actively engaged with demonstrable outcomes which we intend to share across our Open Spaces Department and with other green spaces providers in London.

The proposals include four education posts which will be based on the Heath and supported by a wider team of education specialists from our Open Spaces Department.  The Heath learning team will also develop a new project aiming to get more disadvantaged under 5s and their families playing in wild areas on the Heath.  As well as providing opportunities for NEET young people in the Heath’s communities to learn about the green space sector through a new open spaces wide partnership project.

To summarise, a review of services on the Heath has identified that some aspects could be run more efficiently and where appropriate supplemented by income generation, which would be re-invested back into Heath services.  The City Corporation is now running a staff consultation asking for views, ideas and suggestions on a range of proposals aligned to the learning programme.

I hope this helps explain the process we are following and our commitment to play and learning.

Best wishes


Yvette  Hughes

Business Manager – Hampstead Heath

Telephone: 020 7332 3977

Fax: 020 8348 1677


Closure of Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve

Children from Gospel Oak School the Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve

Children from Gospel Oak School visit the Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve

Members of the DPNF are working with local groups to help save the Mark Fitzpatrick / Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve from being sold as a development plot.

The site – established and maintained by local residents Jeanne Pendrill and Terry Reynolds – has been used by local children and community groups for nearly 30 years. It became an Asset of Community Value after an application was made by committee member, Jessica Jacobs.

“The Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve holds a symbolic and spiritual significance associated with appreciating and nurturing inner city natural environments.” explains Jacobs. “The reserve also plays a vital role in preserving the incredible diversity of wildlife in Camden, as well as forging community links and networks and providing a safe space for environmental education for our next generation of Camden citizens.”

Historically,  the land was reserved as a buffer between Victorian housing on Gordon House Road and the railway and designed to contain trees that protected the community from pollution caused by rail transport. It was saved from development in 1987 when building contractors Mark Fitzpatrick agreed to sign a 10 year lease allowing the local community to create a vital nature reserve and biodiversity corridor.

Over the years the site has been used by school groups from across Camden while at the time of closure last month it was being visited on a weekly basis by children from Gospel Oak Primary school.

Reception teacher, Nicola Rowell described how much she enjoyed bringing children to the site, ” I loved it there, it provided a unique setting for the children and a safe arena for interacting with the environment”.

Jeanne, Terry and Jo Mould of the London Wildlife Trust, met with the current owners last week to request access to help maintain the land while its future is undecided but access was denied by the owners citing legal and insurance issues.

Update 23/10/2015 Jeanne and Terry believe they will be granted access to the site in order to help maintain the reserve. If access is allowed they will act to resume school visits via the gate at Heathview.