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HS2 to build new play area following school pupil’s letter

Three Rivers District Council have today announced (24 Aug) planning permission has been granted for a new landscaped play area for Maple Cross JMI school in Maple Cross Rickmansworth, following a letter to HS2 from a local pupil.

The project was initiated by a letter to HS2 from a year 6 pupil at Maple Cross JMI, which asked that some of the material being excavated at the nearby South Portal construction site be brought to the school to “make a mound to roll down.”

Following the child’s request, HS2 developed a year-long programme of engagement between artists and designer Emily Cropton and the pupils, staff and wider community, in order to make the pupil’s wish come true.

The project is set to include educational workshops with school children in different year groups, in which they learnt about local history and the natural environment, and developed ideas for the design of their new play area.

Planning permission being granted now means that HS2’s main works civils joint venture Align will start the landscaping phase of the project by moving soil from its construction site 600m south of the school.

Throughout the autumn, Align’s local contractors will work with Emily Cropton to create the new play area which will feature an orchard of fruit trees, a meadow of flowering plants, an area of scattered tree trunks for climbing, and a willow tunnel.

There will also be a fossil wall built of clay bricks designed with the children, showing what might be found at Maple Cross in another two million years and the stories these fossils will pass on.

HS2’s Head of Arts and Culture Anne Mullins said: “HS2 has been working with Maple Cross JMI School for some time, and this project is a key part of our ongoing engagement with the local community, reflecting our commitment to being a good neighbour to people along HS2’s route.

“The project itself is part of HS2’s arts and culture programme which works closely with local authorities and cultural organisations to develop projects that enhance the heritage of local areas along the route of the railway. As part of this, HS2’s engineers, landscape architects, designers, architects, ecologists, and heritage teams develop plans for integrating art and design into the landscape around the railway.”

Align’s Project Director, Daniel Altier said: “Align is delighted to be involved in this project, as are our local supply chain contractors. It provides a great opportunity to leave a legacy for children in the local area and will hopefully help to inspire the next generation of engineers. It has also been a pleasure to work with the school and its governors to deliver Emily’s wonderful design.”

Image: HS2 


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