Hainault Forest Restoration Project • Vision RCL

Hainault Forest Restoration Project

Hainault Forest is an inspiring landscape on the fringes of London and Essex, and an oasis of habitats. As a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the forest is a crucial part of the wider borough for wildlife but also a site that’s history is crucial to the birth of the conservation movement, from the 19th century onwards.  Today the forest provides open spaces, big skies, woodland, grassland and a chance to escape the business of modern life. Hainault Forest is much loved locally with our community and the restoration project brings a vision for communities to enjoy such an important space together. 

In 2019, Vision RCL in partnership with the London Borough of Redbridge was successful in securing over £7 million of funding to restore and enhance Hainault Forest.  The funding comes from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Mayor’s Fund at the Greater London Authority and from Redbridge Council. We have since been awarded £45,000 of funding from Garfield Weston Foundation towards our major project to restore Hainault Forest, for more information read our news article.

The project’s vision is to make Hainault Forest even better through celebrating and enhancing the unique heritage, character and environment of the site, establishing and improving opportunities for recreation, learning and volunteering and creating a financially resilient and lasting sustainable legacy for future generations.

The project is focused on the following key delivery areas which will help us to achieve this vision;

  • Improve the condition of the site’s ecology and natural habitats,
  • Improve the condition of the Victorian barns and create a new visitor hub to provide top quality visitor facilities, including a new interactive interpretation centre, visitor centre, events facility and an additional catering offer.  The barns will also provide a number of small workshops for the operation of local, craft-based businesses.
  • Improve the visitor experience at the farm and connect it thematically with the surrounding landscape through focussing on native British wildlife associated with the forest.
  • Develop an extensive programme of activities with a strong focus on training, volunteering, work experience, skills development and learning.

The project team is made up of representatives from Vision RCL, the London Borough of Redbridge, and Woodland Trust who also manage the adjoining woodland across the border in Essex.  The design team is being led by Jon Sheaff Associates, an awarding winning landscape architecture practice.

The main phase of construction began in 2021, phase one of the works were completed in spring 2023 this includes our newly improved visitor facilities. The new play facilities is now open. Foxburrows Farm will be completed by summer 2023.

The future of Hainault Forest

The completion of the playground is part of the final phase of the £7m Hainault Forest restoration project, which has seen the reconstruction of the Victorian barns, which now boast a range of new features and facilities, including:

  • A stunning events space for weddings, corporate events, and celebrations
  • A new interactive visitor hub
  • A brand-new café
  • Craft Workshops for local artists and businesses

Watch our latest video below about the restoration project – One year on or via youtube

Watch our first video about the restoration project below or via youtube:

A podcast from our partners at the Woodland Trust is available to listen to here.  It covers a walk through the ancient woodland and conversations about the history and management of the Forest.

Events and Volunteering at Hainault Forest

Through out the year we are running a range of events at Hainault Forest, including regular volunteering days, walks, community planting and more.

Find out more

To stay updated on the latest news & information on the project, please sign up to our e-newsletter or if you have a specific question about the project please contact us.