The national Open Spaces Society is delighted at the enormous step forward for Knutsford Heath, an important area of common land in Knutsford, Cheshire East. The owner of The Heath, Tatton Estate, has signed an agreement with Knutsford Town Council and the Friends of The Heath (an Open Spaces Society member) to provide guidelines for the use of The Heath for events.
The guidelines became necessary after TV chef Tom Kerridge planned to present ‘Pub in the Park’, a posh-food festival, on The Heath in September 2018. The Open Spaces Society and the Friends opposed the plan because it would have interfered with public access and deprived local people of the use of part of The Heath for ten days and involved enclosure which could have been unlawful.
Much to the objectors’ relief, the organisers decided not to use the site because of the legal difficulties.
With the support of the society, the Friends have initiated the guiding principles for holding events on The Heath, and obtained the agreement of the landowner and town council.
The document recognises the unique nature of The Heath as a living ecosystem, with a precious floral community, where events can cause severe damage. The principles also include an exhortation that events are limited in size and duration, so as not to deprive people of their right to use The Heath; the planning of major events should include wide consultation, and income generated from an event should be used to repair any damage, with the remainder invested in the preservation, maintenance and improvement of The Heath.
Says Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society: ‘We congratulate the three signatories on achieving this comprehensive set of principles to protect their precious heath. We shall promote these as an example to others. The commercial use of parks and open spaces is a growing threat, particularly for those which are owned by local authorities who seek to make money out of them.’
Comments Kevin Griffiths of the Friends: ‘We are delighted to have reached this milestone in ensuring the long-term protection of The Heath. Now we shall work strenuously to ensure that everyone abides by the guidelines.’