A new artist-designed play area commissioned by HS2 Ltd has been opened at a school.

The play area at Rickmansworth’s Maple Cross JMI school has been built on part of the school’s playing field using 1,000 tonnes of soil from HS2’s railway’s Chilterns Tunnel.

It comes after a Year Six pupil wrote to HS2 asking whether soil from the nearby project works could be donated to create a new hill for him and his school mates to roll down.

In response, HS2’s Arts and Culture team commissioned artist and landscape designer Emily Cropton to work with the pupils to develop a design for the new play area.

The play area was built by contractor Align, the joint venture delivering the Central 1 portion of HS2 Phase One.  

It's central feature is five rolling hills and also includes apple, pear, plum and cherry trees to connect pupils with the changing seasons, a ‘fallen forest’ of balancing logs and a tunnel of woven willow saplings.

To help the children comprehend the long history of the Chiltern Hills and Colne Valley, their new play area also includes boulders, similar to those deposited in the area during the last Ice Age.

Pupils were joined by Align project director, Daniel Altier, and Emily Cropton to cut a ribbon and open the area during an unveiling ceremony.

This was attended by Three Rivers District Council Chair Cllr Keith Martin and Cllr Phil Williams.

Maple Cross JMI Acting Headteachers, Anjali Majithia and Emma Bailey said: "We’re really grateful to the whole HS2 team for their efforts to deliver this new play area for the children.”

Mr Altier, said: "Align is very pleased to have been involved in this unique project, working with our local supply chain contractors. What we have delivered is a legacy for the children in the local area that will hopefully inspire the next generation of engineers."

Mrs Cropton added: "It’s been a real pleasure to work with the children and staff at Maple Cross School. The area’s rich geological history provided a very relevant starting point and the project has created an opportunity to engage the children in developing their area in a way that which leaves a legacy for the school.”