Hampstead Heath: Doing its bit for the economy of London

Feel like you need to stretch your legs? Need a bit of fresh air? Head for Hampstead Heath. And while you’re there, think about this. The Heath is now worth more than £50 million to the UK economy every year in benefits to society.

A recent report says that the famous north London green space contributes an estimated £51.2 million every year in terms of benefits to society and has a ‘present natural capital value’ of £1.5 billion over 50 years. It forms part of around 11,000 acres of open spaces protected by the corporation across London and southeast England. Natural Capital Solutions, an environmental consultancy firm, produced the report, which examines the value of the City Corporation’s open spaces in terms of public benefits.

The Heath attracts both tourists and locals, recording an impressive 8.1 million visits annually. In terms of natural capital, every £1 spent on maintaining Hampstead Heath delivers £8.40 in public benefits. It’s also a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation, and is home to more than 25,000 trees, 650 species of fungi, 27 species of butterfly, eight species of dragonfly and damselfly, and grass snakes.

Fancy a cold water dip? The Ladies’ and Men’s Bathing Ponds – the UK’s only lifeguarded open-water swimming facilities – recently underwent a £900,000 investment to improve their safety and accessibility features. The wider network of open spaces managed by the City Corporation, including Epping Forest and Wanstead Flats, are worth an estimated £282.6 million each year in benefits to society. They collectively house 58,000 ancient trees, capturing more than 16,000 tonnes of carbon annually, and attracting more than 47 million visitors.

You can also get a very nice bit of carrot cake and a cup of tea in the cafe at Kenwood House. Worth the trip just for that if you ask me. Wait are you waiting for? Head for the Heath. Oh, and good luck with finding a parking space.