Agreement made for use of Knutsford Heath
Tatton Estate, which owns the Heath, has signed an agreement with Knutsford Town Council and the Friends of The Heath to provide guidelines for the use of the common land for events.
The agreement follows disputes over use of the Heath to host events, such as Pub in the Park.
At the time of news of the switch Tatton Estate said: “This represents a great missed opportunity for Knutsford’s restaurants, bars and retail offering, as well as to raise funds to invest in The Heath.”
The Open Spaces Society said the agreement was an ‘enormous step forward’ for the Heath, which it described as an important area of common land in Knutsford.
A society spokesman said: “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.”
The document signed by the three parties states: “The Heath is common land and a much-loved open space in the centre of Knutsford. It is an amenity area where people exercise themselves and their dogs, or relax and watch the world go by, and is a sanctuary for wildlife. The Heath has traditionally been the site of the annual crowning of the May Queen on Knutsford Royal May Day and its accompanying fun fair. Circuses use the site at different times of the year and it hosts a Scouts car boot sale. These types of events are well suited to common land because they are traditional and open to all. They are welcome because they contribute to the vibrant social life of Knutsford. However, for new, non-traditional events, careful consideration must be given to the benefit to the users of The Heath, its immediate neighbours and Knutsford as a whole; the legalities of holding the event; the impact on the natural integrity of The Heath; and the contribution to the preservation and long-term improvement of The Heath. The largest event is the fair accompanying the Royal May Day. This occupies about 70 per cent of the grassland of the Large Heath for 10 days. It is accepted because of its major historical significance to the town. The local community is unlikely to tolerate another event of such scale. By adopting clear principles for holding public events on The Heath we can protect it and ensure it remains a jewel in Knutsford’s crown.”