The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure a £4.5M grant to turn Hainault Forest Country Park into a regional visitor attraction.
The funding hopes to help with the conservation of the forest by enhancing and protecting its biodiversity. Heritage Lottery Fund’s CEO, Rob Kerslake, said: “The forest is now at a crossroads where it’s in desperate need of investment to avoid further deterioration.”
“Thanks to National Lottery players, we’re helping give this special part of urban Redbridge a chance to survive and thrive.”
There have been no announcements regarding the animal exhibits that will feature at the zoo, but the natural wildlife in the area includes 158 bird species and 940 species of invertebrates.
The project hopes to help Redbridge by creating jobs and enhancing its tourism & leisure offer all the way while protecting the forest.
Cllr Jas Athwal expressed his excitement about the possibility of the project turning the site into “almost a national park”.
“It will be great for residents to go out and enjoy a day there,” said Athwal.
“Together with the golf course and boating lake we will be creating a prospectus of all the good things in Ilford North.”
If all goes to plan, the zoo hopes to open its doors in 2020.