HS2 secures new landscaped play area for Maple Cross JMI school

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Maple Cross

Three Rivers District Council has granted planning permission for a new landscaped play area for Maple Cross JMI school in Maple Cross near Rickmansworth –bringing a request to HS2 from a local pupil to life

The project to redesign the school’s grounds was initiated by a letter to HS2 from a child in Year Six at Maple Cross JMI.

The child 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”.

After receiving the letter, HS2 developed a year-long programme of engagement between artist and designer Emily Cropton and the pupils, staff and wider community, in order to make the pupil’s wish come true.

The planning permission 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.

Through the detailed design, planning and construction phases of the project Emily’s work with the school will continue. In particular, the construction phase will be an interesting and important period, and the school children will be able to observe the soil being moved, learn how the design is ‘set-out’ on the field and take part in planting.

Integrating art and design into landscape

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.”

Artist and designer, Emily Cropton, said: “This project has created a fantastic opportunity for the children to engage with their local environment.

“Through mapping, making and storytelling activities the children have learned about the natural and cultural forces that shape the landscape over time.

“Working with the children has brought a different perspective to my personal research and I’ve been hugely impressed with their ideas, which have contributed significantly to the design of the new natural play space.

“The design creates a landscape of contrasts, with ridges and valleys, light and shade, tall grasses and short grasses. Pathways and journeys invite the children to play in a different way and the life cycle of the wildflower meadow, orchard and fossil wall create a place to learn about time and celebrate the seasons.

“I’m very much looking forward to helping the design come to life over the next six months.”

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