English Heritage faces opposition to Kenwood tree-felling plans

The Kenwood House dairy and copper beech trees - image: protectourponds.org.uk
The Kenwood House dairy and copper beech trees - image: protectourponds.org.uk

English Heritage is seeking views on proposals to fell a number of significant mature trees by its Kenwood House property on Hampstead Heath, northwest London, in order to re-establish historic views from the property and its nearby dairy.

The agency has already completed the first phase of its £6m Caring for Kenwood project, which has seen the interior of the house restored and the dairy opened to the public for the first time.

It now aims to restore "one of London's great views" to landscaper Humphrey Repton's original 18th-century specification, by clearing away 26 trees including three prominent mature copper beeches planted in the 1950s to screen the then-tenanted dairy.

The estate's head gardener Paul Jackson said: "The Kenwood landscape is as much a masterpiece of careful design as the house itself.

"Now with the dairy restored and open to the public, we want to bring back these dramatic views and help visitors to better appreciate the nature and art of Kenwood. "

But the proposals face stiff opposition from local residents, already well organised from earlier protests against attempts to prevent swimming in the heath's famous ponds.

Activist David Lewis said: "The trees look splendid and they're a feature in themselves. It's destruction of nature and I just can't see the point. They're not such brilliant views anyway."

Urging a negative response to the consultation, the campaigning website protectourponds.org.uk said: "We think that preserving the splendour of these three mature and living trees, which could live for another 100 years, has a higher priority."

Submissions to the consultation can be sent to kenwood.house@english-heritage.org.uk until 31 January.

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