Hainault Forest Website

 Official Opening of Play areas

   Report by Redbridge Play Development Officer, Fiona O'Connor


On Monday 9th February 2009, the BIG Lottery funded play facilities in Hainault Forest Country Park were officially opened by The Worshipful the Mayor of Redbridge Councillor Mrs. Loraine Sladden.  The event was well attended by the Leader of the Council, representatives from BIG Lottery, GLA Member, council officers and most importantly; children from John Bramston Primary school and several teenagers involved in the design process.  Young visitors to Hainault Forest Country Park will be the first in Redbridge to enjoy more adventurous play.   New equipment for the older children is located in the woodland behind the lake and equipment for younger children can be found on the farm.  The play areas were designed in partnership with children and young people in the Hainault area.    Hainault was highlighted in the Play Strategy as an area in need of improved play facilities.


Fiona O'Connor, Play development Officer tries out the tree walk


In the Redbridge Play Strategy it was clearly identified that this Borough has a real need for better play provision.  LBR secured funding from the BIG Lottery and the DCSF Playbuilder Fund to carry out these improvements over the next 3 years. 


The recently appointed Play Development Manager (Fiona O’Connor) has been leading a community engagement programme to involve children in the design process.  The children are keen to create more exciting adventurous play facilities, incorporating higher risks that better suits their age.  Some children have a preference for what is termed “natural play”.  Natural Play looks at creating play opportunities in a natural landscape; hills, water, mounds, sand, boulders and fallen trees all feature in a natural play theme.  These playful landscapes can be enjoyed by all ages in the community, not just children.


Through play, children learn to take risks, to assess the level of risk and develop skills to manage it.  In ‘Bright Futures’, a report by the Mental Health Foundation, it states that the opportunities for risk taking in unsupervised play help a child build self-confidence and resilience – key protective factors for mental health. Children that have been deprived of play opportunities and environmental stimulus are reported to show higher levels of mental health problems, restrictions in brain-growth, depression and learning difficulties.


Redbridge is keen to be part of a step change in attitude towards play.  Moving away from the traditional play area to an area planned and designed by local children and young people that better meets their play needs.  By the end of March 2009, in addition to the facilities in Hainault Forest Country Park, a further 9 sites across the borough will benefit from new play facilities:


Barkingside Recreation Ground, Churchfields Play Area, Clayhall Park, Forest Road Recreation Ground, Goodmayes Park, Loxford Park, Oaks Lane Park, Ray Park and Valentines Park.


In the coming 2 years funding has been allocated to improve facilities or create new facilities at an additional 16 sites.



Teenage students with the Mayor of Redbridge Councillor Loraine Sladden and Hainault Forest Manager, Paul Browne

 The Mayor cuts the tape

   On the walkway

 Teenage students on the walkways

Children from John Bramston Primary School play on the climbing frames in the pouring rain as Redbridge's Mayor Councillor Loraine Sladden look on.