Open spaces

Why it matters

Much of the form and character of Highgate can be attributed to its hilltop position and its green spaces.

Seen from above, the area’s major open spaces form an almost complete ring around the plan boundary, with Hampstead Heath and the Kenwood Estate to the South West, linking with Highgate golf course to the North West, Highgate and Queen’s Wood to the North, Parkland Walk to the East and Waterlow Park and Highgate Cemetery completing the ring to the South.

This encirclement of major green spaces has kept Highgate as it is; a true London village which has, to a large extent, retained its semi-rural character from the end of the 19th century.

What we’re doing

Tree Group

We established a Tree Group to map, photograph and protect our existing trees. We’ve met with both Camden and Haringey councils to help ensure they follow the Plan’s tree protection policies when assessing planning applications. We also will look to replace trees and find new sites for tree planting.

CIL projects

Many of our high-priority CIL projects support and improve our open spaces such Waterlow Park and Pond Square. There are also proposals for playground projects on the Parkland Walk and the bike track next to Highgate Library.

Other initiatives

Other projects we are involved in include:

  • Part of London National City Park project
  • Mapping of community growing spaces

What the Plan says

Highgate's Major Open Spaces (Policy OS1)

Development which is adjacent to Highgate’s areas of major open space (Hampstead Heath, the Kenwood Estate, Highgate and Queen’s Woods, the Parkland Walk, Highgate Golf Course, Highgate Bowl, Highgate School playing fields, Highgate Cemetery and Waterlow Park) should respect its setting and not be visually intrusive. Development adjacent to Highgate’s major open spaces should ensure that:

I. It does not harm protected views identified on the Boroughs’ policies maps;
II. It is not detrimental to the integrity, appearance or setting of the open space in terms of height, scale, massing, use of materials or function.

Protection of Trees and Mature Vegetation (Policy OS2)

I. Within the conservation areas or when protected by a TPO, specimen, veteran and mature trees and mature vegetation, which have townscape, ecological or amenity value should be retained where possible. If such loss is shown to be absolutely necessary, new development will be expected to submit proposals for suitable replacements, like for like replacement being supported where appropriate and feasible.

II. Developments will be expected to preserve or enhance the character of Highgate’s conservation areas, and the setting of the major open spaces. This should include, where necessary, the provision of new or replacement planting. There should be no net loss of trees as a result of development, and pro rata replacement will be expected. The development should not harm the local network of ecological corridors and stepping stones, unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss.

III. Within the conservation areas or when protected by a TPO, if a mature tree is found to be diseased and requires work significantly reducing its ecological or amenity value, appropriate replacement planting will be sought as close to the original site of the tree as possible. Veteran trees should be retained where possible.

Local Green Space (Policy OS3)

The Highgate Neighbourhood Forum supports the designation of existing public open spaces as Local Green Spaces. They will be protected from the impact of development which would result in a loss in the quantity and quality of public green areas which are of particular importance to the community. The following sites are designated as Local Green Spaces:

  • LGSD1: Open Land on Holly Lodge Estate
  • LGSD2: Southwood Lane Wood
  • LGSD3: Park House Passage
  • LGSD4: Pond Square
  • LGSD5: Peace Park
  • LGSD6: Fitzroy Park Allotments
  • LGSD7: Highgate Allotments
  • LGSD8: Shepherd’s Hill Railway Gardens Allotments
  • LGSD9: Aylmer Allotments
Biodiversity and Highgate's Green Grid (Policy OS4)

Development should support the ability of ‘Highgate’s Green Grid’ (see Plan) to act as an element in the local ecological network. The impact of a proposal on the Green Grid will be assessed against its wider benefits to the local area.

While the composition of garden planting cannot be controlled through policy, any new development or public realm planting project will be encouraged to plant tree species indigenous to the area and, when possible, of genetically local stock, and to undertake, wherever appropriate, the planting of areas conducive to the promotion of the local ecology.

Non-statutory actions

CA27: Encourage biodiversity (in particular, beneficial insects such as bees, other pollinators, butterflies, moths and birds) by planting native trees, shrubs and wildflowers in open spaces both large and small.

CA28: Encourage residents to engage in ‘guerilla gardening’ in neglected spaces.

CA29: Identify and plot the main trees in the Plan area with a view to preserving and enhancing them.

CA30: Improve access to, and use made of, the parks and woodland in the Plan area.

CA31: Work with community groups to enhance the small pockets of open space.

CA32: Map the ecological corridors in N6 to add to those already designated in the Councils’ polices maps, and identify and map a local Green Grid, building on the All London Green Grid and Boroughs’ Biodiversity Action Plans to set a basis for the active management of green infrastructure, including trees.

CA33: Provision and enhancement of Green Walkways, especially near Highgate Underground Station.

CA34: Organise new signage for pedestrians from Highgate Station to Parliament Hill Fields.

CORE OBJECTIVE

“To empower the whole community to protect, enhance and obtain the maximum benefits from Highgate’s open spaces, where this does not harm the existing integrity or character of the open space”

OPEN SPACES POSTS

Pond Square toilets threatened

Camden council are proposing to close the toilets in Pond Square. Once closed it is highly unlikely they will ever be reopened as toilets but sold off to the private sector for conversion to another purpose. These well known and popular toilets receive...

Phone box advertising

Camden has received an application to turn one of Highgate's iconic phone boxes into an advertising stand containing three LCD screens with flashing ads. The Forum has objected. Please read about the background, and the response to the council here:...

Hampstead Heath Dam News

Works on the Hampstead Heath Ponds have started in earnest. Although most amenity groups were against the works, the City of London pressed ahead with their plans, won a judicial review and got planning permission from Camden. So we must now grin and bear...

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