Familes enjoying a sunny afternoon in Exploratory Park, Brent Cross Town

PLAY in your park

Exploratory Park is now open for use from early morning till dusk, daily – just a 12-minute walk from Brent Cross tube station.

Claremont Way

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Familes enjoying a sunny afternoon in Exploratory Park, Brent Cross Town

Plan your journey

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01 October 2020

Sport for everyone
– yes, everyone

Play is really positive for everyone: it takes the weight of the world off your shoulders.

Heath​ Harvey is Project Play lead for Brent Cross Town. It’s his job to build a place that will coax work-weary Londoners out of their smart shoes and into a kick-about, invite families out for a weekend stroll or tempt teenagers with teqball.

With a mind-boggling array of sports and activities on offer, these rolling acres of parkland are shaping up to be a place where anyone, ‘sporty’ or ‘not sporty’, can play around and get active. Sport here will build community, inspire participation, drive better mental health – and be heaps of fun.

Heath told us how this destination for play plans to spark the imagination of young, old and everyone in between.

Heath Harvey is the lead on Project Play at Brent Cross Town, aiming to get everyone active

At Brent Cross Town, we have a great opportunity to invest in 50 acres of green space and create a new kind of park that’s never been seen in London before. We want to build a compelling mix of traditional sports like tennis, netball and football, alongside fun facilities such as bouldering and parkour, and social sports like boules and table tennis. This park will be absolutely exemplary, and people from areas wider than just Brent Cross will be drawn in because of its quality. 

We don’t want to paint ourselves into a sporting corner where you have to wear Lycra to fit in. We want to drive new levels of health in our community as a consequence of people coming to this place and doing things they’d never intended to do. We want to be a place where you turn up in your jeans and your overcoat, and you end up putting your smart shoes on the side of a pitch and having a kick around in bare feet, even if you’ve not really played football before.

Or, say you’re running through the park, and you come across an outdoor gym and decide to stop and do a few pull-ups. Before you know it, some more people have joined in and now you’re all doing the same thing. Before long, you’re training with them two or three times a week. This incidental play was never your intention – you just wanted to go for a jog – but there was an intervention and it led to something bigger and better.

We don’t want to paint ourselves into a sporting corner where you have to wear Lycra to fit in.
Leisure facility and Clitterhouse Playing Fields
A sketch of Brent Cross Town’s generous playing fields and parks

Brent Cross Town will have BMX, parkour, skateboarding, bouldering, climbing, scootering and teqball, which is a curved table that you play football across – it’s where keepie-uppie meets table tennis! Put a teqball table into a park and you’ll have a queue of teenagers right away. Sometimes it’s the weird and the wonderful that draws people in because it’s a different mix of facilities. Play is perceived as something for children, but play is really positive for everyone: it takes the weight of the world off your shoulders. 

We look at it through the lens of a 70 or 80 year old and make sure we create something that works for every generation. At Brent Cross, seniors will be able to meet to play boules or petanque, and sit and have a cup of tea; ensuring elderly people can work out in an outdoor gym or trim trail in a park. Just a few leg presses while having a chat can be really important to maintaining good health.

For a young girl growing up in Brent Cross, a friendly taster session at the local hockey club can make all the difference, as she can give it a go even though she doesn’t own a hockey stick. Programming is key and will bring the facilities to life and drive participation. We have big ambitions around programming and will be bringing in coaches and community groups to try and remove the intimidation factor.

We’re also forming partnerships with national governing bodies of sports and local heroes, which will take our parks to another level. We’re working with Women In Sport, because boys are much quicker to throw their jumpers on the ground to make goalposts and we want a landscape that has as many women enjoying the benefits of sport as men. We are also going to work with Sported, an organisation that supports community sports groups to help build resilience in local community sports, supported by our great facilities.

We’ll have more free facilities in the park than paid-for, by a long shot. We want to show people who’ve lived in Brent Cross for a long time that there’s something in it for them too. It’s not just for the people who’ll move into the new homes. Their children are going to have amazing opportunities on their doorstep for years to come. Anyone will be able to turn up to our new park and enjoy themselves, and everybody can go on this journey together.

Read more about the vision for Brent Cross Town.