A brief history of the Ponds Project – part 3 (2012 – 2015)

In December 2012,  Atkins produce  a Design Review Method Statement with input from the Ponds Project Stakeholder Group and the Hampstead Heath Consultative Committee and approval from the Hampstead Heath Management Committee. This Statement sets out the next steps of the project, the first of which is a review of the hydrological data that forms the foundation of the project by the Design Team, led by Atkins. In parallel to this the Design Team review the environmental constraints for the Heath.

Early in 2013 the Ponds Project Stakeholder Group attend a workshop with the Strategic Landscape Architect to list the opportunities and thre​ats at each pond. Hampstead Heath staff repeat this exercise and all of the information gathered at both workshops is given to the Design Team. Meanwhile the public are asked for their initial views about what needs to be protected during the project and any enhancements they would like to see. See summary of results here. The Strategic Landscape Architect produces a Critical Review to capture the consultation which has taken place.

In May 2013, the Design Team deliver their first major piece of work – a complete review of all of the hydrological data which forms the basis for the project. The results of this are described in the Design Flood Assessment  and in a shorter and less technical form in the Design Flood Assessment Summary report.  The Design Team found that using more refined modeling techniques provided a more accurate set of data and hence a clearer picture of the risk of potential flooding. Their results indicate that the scale of potential flooding in the worst case is significantly lower than the largest flood modeled by previous hydrologists. This press release describes the results in more detail. The Ponds Project Stakeholder Group and the Hampstead Heath Consultative Committee are briefed on this study and ask supplementary questions which are answered by the Design Team before it gains approval from the Hampstead Heath Management Committee on 9 May 2013.

In June 2013 the Design Team produced a Constrained Options Report and Appendices which details the process they went through in combining constraints, identified by the Ponds Project Stakeholder Group and the public, with engineering principals.

In July and August 2013, the Design Team produce a Shortlist Options Report. Various options, including the size of proposed new embankments on the Highgate and Hampstead pond chains, are explored in this report. The Stakeholder Group and the public comment on this report – a summary of their comments is attached to the report as Appendix C and the full comments are placed on the Shortlist Options Report webpage

Following a request from Stakeholders, in August 2013 the City agree to produce a Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) to aid understanding of the baseline risks of dam failure for the two chains of ponds on Hampstead Heath. The QRA demonstrates a potential for loss of life in the event of dam failure which ranges from five people to over 1400 people. A position paper  by Panel Engineer, Dr Andy Hughes is produced to read in conjunction with the QRA.

October 2013 – The Preferred Options Report is published by the Design Team. In this report, In this report, Atkins look in more detail at two options on each chain of ponds and the trade-offs between the different heights of dams and the work required elsewhere on the chain.

In November 2013,  A non-statutory information sharing and consultation exercise commences based on the Preferred Options Report. The public are invited to find out more about the project and fill in a questionnaire about the option they prefer. Read more about this consultation exercise.

In March 2014 the Consultation results are published in a Summary Document and in the Full Report

In June 2014, the Preferred Solution Report  is published. This report puts forward the case for the preferred solution for each chain of ponds and gives updates on refinements to the design following environmental reviews and the results of the Information Giving and Public Consultation. This report was heard by the Hampstead Heath Consultative Committee on 2 June 2014 and the Hampstead Heath, Queens Park and Highgate Wood Management Committee on 9 June 2014.

At the end of June 2014, the Heath & Hampstead Society writes to the City with a letter before claim  – the first stage in the Judicial Review process. The City responds (125KB) on 28 July 2014. In November 2014 – The Heath and Hampstead Society’s Judicial Review is heard before Lady Justice Lang at the Royal Courts of Justice. On 28 November, Lady Justice Lang handed down her judgment. She rejected the Heath & Hampstead Society’s case that the City of London Corporation’s decision was unlawful and irrational, and refused the Society permission to appeal. Read the full judgement – part 1 and part 2.

Meanwhile in July 2014, a planning application is submitted to Camden Council. View the application on Camden’s website. At Camden Council’s Development Control Committee on Thursday 15 January, planning permission for the Ponds Project is granted subject to conditions and a Section 106 agreement.​

That concludes the brief (!) history of the Ponds Project. Construction work will begin in April 2015 and there will be more on that to come.

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