New video provides update on Hainault Forest restoration project

Hainault Forest. Picture: Lindsay Jones

The project team behind the Hainault Forest restoration has released an information video on the project, the main phase of which will begin construction this year. - Credit: Lindsay Jones

The team behind the Hainault Forest restoration project have released an information video ahead of construction which is due to start this year.

Amongst those interviewed were design team director Jon Sheaff, architect Chris Kiernan and Vision RCL project manager Lucy Oldnall.

Jon explained that the plans include the addition of a visitor centre for the Woodland Trust, a training centre for craft workshops, as well as a new café, restaurant and community space. 

The 1856 barn, he said, is to become an indoor exhibition which will "tell the story of the forest" - both historically and in terms of how it functions as an ecosystem. 

Jon felt the biggest challenge will be to "make sure that this place stays fresh", whilst ensuring it "continues to be an attractive site".

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He called the Victorian buildings "the key to unlocking that future potential and securing that financial sustainability" that will preserve the site.

Chris - an architect with Thomas Ford and Partners - said the aim was to "maintain the character of the barns, but also to enable them to be brought into a 21st century use".

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Describing them as an "intrinsic part of the landscape", he believes it's vital that they become "accessible to all".

Lucy offered a project update: "We are now getting towards the stage where you are going to start seeing changes happen on the site."

Hainault Forest Country Park. Picture: Lindsay Jones

More than £7 million of funding has been secured for the project, including from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Mayor's Fund at the GLA and from Redbridge Council. - Credit: Lindsay Jones

The first of these will be the demolition of the changing room block.

Vision RCL forest ranger Emily Marlton and volunteer Raymond Small also contributed to the video.

For Emily, the best part of her role - which ranges from planting trees to organising conservation volunteer groups - is that every day is "different".

Raymond - a volunteer for five years - particularly enjoys recording wildlife, having discovered about one thousand species over the past year.

It's hoped that the works - made possible by more than £7million worth of secured funding - will be complete by early 2022.

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