Yorkshire’s Epic Indoor Playhive to Open this Summer
The final phase of a £3.5 million project to create one of Europe’s biggest indoor children’s play centres is underway.
The Playhive at Stockeld Park is now set to open in Yorkshire in July 2022.
Set in the 2,000-acre Stockeld Estate near Wetherby, the Playhive features a series of interconnected adventure zones set within a circular building, with a 33-foot tower at its centre.
It brings the adventure and exploration of the natural world indoors, with unique play experiences centred on themes including space, the jungle, the ocean, and the air.
The Playhive is the brainchild of Peter and Susie Grant, who own and run Stockeld Park.
Peter Grant said: ‘Everything we have done at Stockeld has been original and unique, and we have sought to engage children in imaginative themed play in magical surroundings. Up until now, our attraction has been outside in our beautiful woodlands and fields, but we wanted to ensure that children could play even on rainy days. So, we set out to create something like our Enchanted Forest, which is outside, inside.”
Stockeld Park, is already one of Yorkshire’s leading family attractions. Its iconic Enchanted Forest contains numerous themed play areas, including the Teepee Encampment, Tangle Tree Climb, Woodsands Cove and the Spider’s Lair, all containing imaginative bespoke play features designed to inspire children’s imaginations.
The Enchanted Forest is complimented by a huge yew tree Maze, also filled with imaginative play, as well as go karts, roller skating and ice skating in the winter, when the park comes alive with Christmas illuminations.
Susie Grant said: “Our imaginative play has been the secret of our success, and we wanted to re-create that inside. We didn’t want the usual plastic soft play, but rather bespoke wooden structures – just as we have outside – but even better. We came up with this original concept for the Playhive and have guided our designers and fabricators throughout this process. Not only will the play be physically stimulating and challenging, it will also take children on far-flung exotic adventures in their imaginations.”
The Playhive’s focus on play has been welcomed by child psychologists. Helen Dodd, a professor of child psychology at Reading University is a member of PlayFirstUK – a group of 15 leading child psychologists and educational specialists – advocating play to help children recover from almost two years of Covid anxieties.
Professor Dodd said: “It’s not surprising we have seen unprecedented increases in children’s mental health problems and loneliness, alongside decreased levels of physical activity. Child psychologists, paediatricians and educators have independently called for play to be central to children’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. It is vital that children are given the time and space they need, to enjoy a wide range of playful activities, and to reconnect and play with their peers.”
Professor Dodd added: “As part of the recovery process, children need time to reconnect and play with their friends, they need to be reminded how good it feels to be active and excited by play. There is understandable concern about children’s education but the impact of mental health problems in childhood can be lifelong. It is fantastic therefore to see new investment for creative, exciting new play experiences such as those being developed at Stockeld Park.”
Children’s charities will benefit from the Playhive.
Locally, the attraction will help raise funds for the charity, Martin House Children’s Hospice in Wetherby.
Peter said: “We’re aware that not all children have the opportunities they should, and so we are very proud to use the PlayHive to launch our support of this valuable charity.”
Lucy Pickford, head of relationships and strategic partnerships at Martin House, said: “Playhive is such an exciting initiative, and we’re delighted they have chosen to support us. We’re very aware of the power of play and the huge benefit it brings to children who receive the care of Martin House, and Playhive’s support will help us continue to provide this kind of experience to them and their families.”
Photo and illustrations courtesy of Stockeld Park and Guzelian Media.