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
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 will begin in January 2021 and we hope the works will be completed early in 2022. The site will remain open to visitors throughout this period although there may be some disruption while work is undertaken. Please check the website for further details during 2021.
For more information on the project, to ask a specific question or to be kept up to date on activities at Hainault Forest please complete the form below.