Last week English Heritage held a public meeting in the Olde Kitchen at Kenwood to review the events held on the estate over the summer, to give details of the Christmas lights event and to flag up plans for 2023. All interested groups (Friends of Kenwood, Highgate Society, Heath and Hampstead Society) were there along with a clutch of local residents who had either been affected by the noise of the summer’s concerts or were concerned about the effect of events on the heath. Questions had been submitted in advance.
So, to give you just a very brief overview:
A number of people were concerned about damage done to the meadows, lawns and general area both by the 10,000 attendees and by the huge amount of ‘gear’ that had to be imported to stage the concerts. Residents were also bothered by the noise levels which were obtrusive as far away as the Vale of Health.
Taking all of this on board, even though the concerts contributed a large whack to the charity’s annual revenue, English Heritage have decided that they will not stage big ‘pop’ concerts again. They had considered reverting to the classical concerts held some years ago, but could find no way to make them economically viable.
So, instead of the concerts they will stage a larger number of smaller events which will have less impact on the fabric of the estate and be less disruptive for residents.
They also made it clear that organisers of events at Kenwood were responsible not only for returning everything to the state in which they had found it but for covering all associated costs.
Following on from the noise disruption created by the concerts, English Heritage have engaged a variety of noise consultants and monitors to keep the noise created by all events constantly under review.
The charity works closely with Camden Planning and have got permission for an open ended number of smaller events each year thus minimising the cost to both parties of constantly having to apply for specific permissions.
Christmas light show
The Christmas light show will run again this year but with a number of changes.
- The food market which was situated on the flower lawn last year will be spread around the estate. The disruption to ‘normal’ visitors was too great and the damage to the lawn too costly to repair to repeat that placement.
- The light show on the front of the house will be dialled down to be closer to the more subtle lighting on the terrace.
- The route for visitors will ensure that they remain on the paths and do not stray beyond them.
- There will be a soundtrack accompanying visitors round the route but it will be low key and will not be audible outside the Kenwood estate.
- Fairy lights will not be wound round the trunks of the trees in the Lime Avenue as, magical though they looked, they took three weeks and an unsustainable number of cherry pickers to install and remove!
- Lighting will all be LED/low energy and will only be switched on for the hours that the show is open.
The two big events (the Financial Times weekend and the How the Light gets in Festival) will happen again in 2023 but no other events are yet confirmed.
English Heritage pointed out that abandoning the concerts would make a sizeable hole in their income for 2023 and that needed to be replaced. They would hope to do so with smaller events but that would be hard. By the terms of the original Iveagh bequest they are, of course, unable to charge for entry to the house or grounds.
They also pointed out that the average contribution made by visitors to Kenwood was 27p per head….