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Improving Clent Hills play area

Three children playing at the four pillars
Three children playing at the four pillars | © National Trust Images/John Millar

We’ve been looking at how we can develop and improve the play areas at Clent Hills. We know people come to Clent to get outdoors and spend time with friends and family, and an important place for families is the natural play area.

What we'd like to do?

We want to develop the natural play area and add more accessible play equipment; still keeping within a woodland setting. We also know one of the top reasons people come to Clent Hills is to see the views from the top of the hill, so we’d like to develop a playful trail to run alongside the main path.

First steps

The first step in making improvements at Clent Hills was to look at our current play area and gather feedback on how it could be improved. From 11th December – 31st January, we encouraged everyone to share their feedback through our online survey. We wanted to know what visitors would like to see at Clent Hills, and what’s important to them and their family.

Thank you to everyone who left feedback through our survey, we had over 300 repsonses!

Appointing a design company

We are delighted to announce that we'll be working with Earth Wrights, who'll provide designs and recommendations on how we improve the play area and play trail. Earth Wrights are a pioneering company that aim to bring children into contact with nature while playing in beautifully designed and built natural play areas. They specialise in the design and build of inspirational play spaces and equipment.

Consultantions with Milking Bank Primary School and SEND group

Children from Milking Bank Primary School were visited by the National Trust anddesign team, Earth Wrights, to get their thoughts on the proposed improved play area at Clent Hills.children to learn about the National Trust, Clent Hills and the importance of nature and conservation. Earth Wrights then took the class through their design and asked the children to use their imagination and create their own play areas. At the end of the session the children presented their designs to the team and their classmates.

To help make the play area as accessible as possible, the team also spoke to local parents and SEND groups in the area, to get their views on how changes could help their families.

We hope to have the design completed in August and can then start applying for planning permission and funding shortly after.

Group photo with children, National Trust Team and Earth Wrights
Group photo with children, National Trust Team and Earth Wrights | © Sam Coley


Below are some FAQs about the project, the survey and ways to stay up to date with project milestones.

How long will this project take?

The timeframe is 1 year to completion, but it could take longer due to planning permissions and funding applications.

I have a child who is SEN – will you be looking at equipment for them too?

Yes, we want our play area to be as inclusive as possible.

I didn’t know you had an area for children, where is it?

Our current play area is at the Nimmings wood carpark entrance to Clent Hills. It’s in the wooded area next to the picnic space, which sits behind the café. It’s open all year.

How will you use my data from the survey?

Our survey was designed with the National Trust data protection office. The data we collect is completely anonymous. No personal details were asked for e.g. your name, email, number or postcode. We only wanted your thoughts and views on our current play offer and how you’d like it to look. This feedback will help inform our decisions around play at Clent, and has been passed to Earth Wrights; the design company for this project.

How can you afford this?

We’re able to improve the play offer at Clent Hills thanks to the generous support of external funders. The money for this project isn’t coming from the Clent Hills annual budget, or the wider National Trust budget. If not for external funders, we wouldn’t be able to improve our current play area and play trail, making it more inclusive and accessible and adding new life to our current space.

The funding at this stage is not guaranteed, but the survey and consultation sessins with schools and local SEND groups will help us understand what visitors want and we will base our funding application on this.

I’d like to know how this project progresses. How can I stay informed?

We’ll be updating this page with project milestones. You can also follow us on social media, where we’ll be posting updates about the project and sharing any operational updates closer to work starting. You can ask any of our onsite staff about progress too.

Clents Hills Play Project Timeline

December 2023

Survey Live

The first stage in improving the play areas at Clent Hills is to assess our current offer. We hope to capture thoughts and opinions of parents, carers and grandparents through our online survey. Our online survey closed 31st January 2024. The information we gather can then be used in the next step of the project, the design stage.    

Three children playing at the four pillars
Three children playing at the four pillars | © National Trust Images/John Millar