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Hainault Forest voted as one of the top ten parks in the country

Park users have voted for Hainault Forest as one of the most impressive green spaces in the country as part of the 2023 People’s Choice Awards.

Over 21,000 people took part, voting for their favourite Green Flag park or green space as part of the annual People’s Choice Awards, and for the first time, Hainault Forest took one of the ten top spots.

Hainault Forest is one of nine parks in Redbridge with a prestigious Green Flag Award, which recognises well-maintained, accessible, biodiverse parks loved by their local communities. The awards are presided over by a panel of experts and set the standard for managing recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and worldwide.

Hainault Forest has recently undergone a £7million redevelopment, including a complete renovation of the Victorian barns and the creation of a new visitor hub with event space, a café, artist workshops and a Woodland Trust visitor centre. A new woodland-inspired children’s playground has been created, with Redbridge’s biggest slide and Foxburrows Farm renovated to make space for new furry friends, including sheep, pigs and goats.

The project was delivered in partnership with Vision RCL and the Woodland Trust, with funding from Redbridge Council, National Heritage Lottery Fund, GLA Good Growth Fund and the Garfield Weston Foundation.

Deputy Leader of Redbridge Council, Cllr Kam Rai, said: “We know how important our parks and green spaces are for local people, and what a difference access to free activities for children can make for families, especially during these tough economic times. Working with partners, we’ve transformed Hainault Forest, delivering the perfect family day right on our doorstep, and it’s wonderful to see our country park recognised in this way.”

“I’m so proud of all our work, renovating the old Victorian barns and creating attractions for local families to enjoy. I would highly recommend visiting the park to anyone who enjoys beautiful landscapes, nature paths, and fun, free activities for children.”

Chair of Vision Trustees, Martin Solder, said: “We’re honoured to have received this award; over the last few years, Hainault Forest has seen significant investments in facilities thanks to our funders and has now been recognised as one of the best top ten parks in the UK for the first time. Hainault Forest is an asset to our community, and we’re committed to ensuring it remains a vibrant and accessible space for all. Winning this award is a testament to the tireless efforts of the staff and volunteers. Vision RCL are determined to continue our work to enhance the park’s offerings.”

Green Flag Award Manager Paul Todd, said: “Our parks and green spaces are essential to people’s wellbeing and we know these free to access places will continue to be vital to communities. To have achieved this recognition from the public is testament to the tireless work by our parks staff and volunteers to make Hainault Forest a wonderful place everyone can enjoy.

“Our Green Flag Award winners include some of the country’s best-known and iconic parks, community green spaces, university campuses, and canals. We want to congratulate Hainault Forest on their fantastic achievement.”

George Lewis, Woodland Trust Hainault Forest Visitor Experience Manager, said: “Our partnership with Vision Redbridge at Hainault Forest has been such a proud moment for the Woodland Trust and to have received this award for all the investment that has been put into the forest makes it all worth it. We have seen 25,000 visitors through the visitor centre and to know that we have had an impact on providing an excellent woodland experience is a testament to the work of our team, our volunteers and partners.”

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