New funding for Hainault Forest Country Park
New funding for Hainault Forest Country Park

Redbridge Council’s ambitious plans to preserve, protect and enhance Hainault Forest for future generations have received another major boost after the announcement of new funding support.

The council has successfully bid for £1.2m from the Mayor’s Good Growth Fund to help the development and growth of traditional businesses in the ancient woodland.

It follows the news last month that the council had secured £4.2m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to reinvigorate the iconic landscape and protect ancient species.

The council has also pledged £1.5m, bringing total investment to £6.9m.

Mayor Sadiq Khan’s funding boost will pave the way for the creation of a hub for the creative and craft industries in the heart of the forest.

Based around the soon to be restored Victorian farm buildings, the new 5,000 m2 facility will provide impressive and much needed workspace for budding entrepreneurs.

The centre, called the ‘Forge’, aims to bridge the gap between traditional industries of the iconic forest and the emerging SME’s in neighbouring Hainault Business Improvement District (BID) and across east London.

It will provide jobs and new vocational training for the community, all based and strongly themed around Hainault Forest.

Council Leader Cllr Jas Athwal said: “This is more fantastic news for Hainault.  The forest is a magnificent urban oasis in our borough and the funding from the Mayor is another huge boost in our efforts to rejuvenate a very special place.  The project is a good example of how our regeneration of Redbridge is benefiting the whole community by supporting businesses and creating jobs and training opportunities in the area.  I’d like to thank the Mayor for his generous support, which along with the other investment is helping mark a new chapter in the iconic forest’s history.’

Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, Jules Pipe, said: “The Forge project in Hainault is a great example of how the Mayor’s Good Growth Fund helps give Londoners greater access to green spaces. As London moves towards becoming a National Park City, Redbridge Council is creating an important space within a much-loved forest which will support entrepreneurs and bring businesses together – as well as creating jobs and training opportunities for generations to come.”

Covering a total of 800 acres Hainault Forest includes 250 acres of greenbelt, ancient woodland and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).  It is the last fragment of a medieval Royal hunting forest established by Henry I that included Hatfield and Epping.  The forest is a vital green space, with 500,000 visits projected annually.

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