Primrose Hill CLOSES at night during summer weekends

Primrose Hill CLOSES at night: Park will lock gates at weekends over summer in row over anti-social behaviour

  • Primrose Hill will shut during Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday nights in summer 

For centuries Primrose Hill has been a place where generations of people gather to stargaze and watch the sun rise over London’s sprawling skyline.

It even provided the inspiration hundreds of years ago for poet William Blake who wrote: ‘I have conversed with the spiritual Sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill.’

Now the landmark, which offers spectacular views of the capital’s skyline, will be closed off on weekend nights in a bid to crackdown on anti-social behaviour in the park.

The Royal Parks announced that metal gates will be used to shut off access to Primrose Hill on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, between 10pm and 6am during summer months to kerb the amount of vandalism, graffiti and noise. 

The decision to shut what is one of six protected viewpoints across London has sparked division amongst Londoners in the borough of Camden – while some have applauded the decision, claiming it is ‘key to combatting antisocial behaviour’,  others argue it’s ‘completely unnecessary’. 

The Royal Parks plan to close Primrose Hill (pictured) to members of the public throughout summer nights 

The closures will take place between 10pm and 6am on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer months 

Former Channel 4 presenter Jon Snow, who lives in the area, slammed the decision claiming it was ‘completely unnecessary’

The Royal Parks will now have to submit a planning application to the local authority to replace the current fencing, which it says ‘detracts from this important Grade-II listed landscape, with black metal gates.

People are already restricted to entering the viewpoint on Primrose Hill on ad hoc days of the year, such as Bonfire Night, Halloween and New Year’s Eve, but now the restrictions will include evenings during the daylight savings period.

Luke Tryl, who lives in North London and is director of More in Common, told MailOnline: ‘It is incredibly sad that it is happening. This is a very special area of London where you see people sitting in the park at night with people and it’s really special because of the view. This will remove that, and it is a great loss for Londoners.

‘It speaks to a wider problem of how anti-social behaviour crime is impacting public spaces.

‘This is not an isolated example of minorities ruining it for the majority. This is just a high-profile problem of how our shared spaces are shutting down because of things like vandalism, graffiti, noise.

‘It is terrible for our community, terrible for people’s experience and terrible for our health.’

Another man writing on Twitter said: ‘This is a real shame, sitting up on Primrose Hill (quietly) after staying up all night clubbing, waiting for the sunrise, is a magical London experience.

For centuries Primrose Hill has long been a place where generations of people gather to stargaze and watch the sun rise over London’s sprawling skyline

‘Obviously one I enjoyed many decades ago, but I’m sad it’s being denied to modern teens in love.’

Another added: ‘Absolute shame. Loved summer nights on the hill when we lived in Chalk Farm.’ 

Former Channel 4 news presenter and veteran broadcaster Jon Snow, who lives in the area, said the decision was ‘completely unnecessary’.

He told BBC London: ‘I am often out after 10pm with my dog and I have never seen any evidence of serious problems,’ he said.

‘There is no reason why Royal Parks should spend the very little money they have on shutting the park.

‘It’s thoroughly invasive’.

Others, however, are not as convinced and believe it is the right decision to close the hilltop park during the lighter nights.

One resident Adam Donneky said it is ‘key to combatting antisocial behaviour’.

He added: ‘I’ve seen people using my front garden as a toilet, drug use in the park, and nearby shops experiencing theft and vandalism.

‘There have been unofficial parties with thousands of people attending where there’s a sound system and DJ that plays through the night.’

The decision has divided communities in the Borough of Camden, with some claiming it is unnecessary while others said it is ‘key’ to combatting anti-social behaviour

Eleanor Sturdy who chairs Primrose Hill’s crime panel, said the division over what to do about late nights in the park began during the pandemic.

She told the Guardian following the recent decision published last week: ‘It was really sad because some of the people weren’t listening to each other.

‘There is crime still going on. We have had reports of sexual assaults, people being assaulted with machetes and fireworks going off. I think this is the right idea.’

Primrose Hill Community Association said the issues with antisocial behaviour began during the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.

When pubs and clubs were closed people instead chose to gather in the park with loudspeakers and fireworks.

It led to complaints from residents who put temporary gates in last year, but these have been vandalised and broken on several occasions.

Mr Tyrl, however, said that the issues seen in Primrose Hill mirror what is being seen all over the country, albeit in less well-known pubic spaces.

He added: ‘It is incredibly sad and I hope they find a way to keep it open but it is a symptom of a bigger problem of anti-social behaviour not being handled properly by police.

‘(Police need to) be taking a tougher line on anti-social behaviour, more hot spot policing in these areas where we know those who commit anti-social behaviour congregate.

‘We also need to make those engaging in anti-social behaviour clean up after themselves, removing graffiti, picking up their little. Once people have consequences it will no longer be a free for all.’

The Royal Parks said it had run a survey in November and December to gather the views of residents and visitors alike on a variety of issues within the park, such as little, noise, cycling and behaviour. 

It also asked whether the park should be locked.

A spokesperson for the Royal Parks said: ‘There have been very strong views on both sides of the debate between those who wish to see the park locked at night and those who wish to keep it open. It is, however, incumbent on The Royal Parks to take a balanced and proportionate decision which it has now done.

‘Primrose Hill is a beautiful space and outstanding resource which is there for everyone to enjoy. The Royal Parks urges all visitors to respect this and all the other parks it manages, and to show consideration to fellow visitors and neighbouring communities.’

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