The Playhive at Stockeld Park: A new Yorkshire play centre is set to open this summer with themes including air and space

The final phase of a £3.5 million project to build the new play centre The Playhive in Stockeld Park is set to open this summer.

The Playhive at Stockeld Park will be opening for the first time near Wetherby in July 2022 and features a series of interconnected adventure zones set within a circular building with a 33 ft tower.

It will bring the adventure and exploration of the natural world indoors with one-of-a-kind play experiences for children of all ages on themes including space, the jungle, the ocean and the air.

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The Playhive is the brainchild of Peter and Susie Grant, the owners of Stockeld Park.

The Santa runners making their way through the Enchanted Forest at Stockeld Park. (Pic credit: James Hardisty)

Mr 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’s popular Enchanted Forest contains various themed play areas, including the Teepee Encampment, Tangle Tree Climb, Woodlands Cove and the Spider’s Lair, all containing imaginative bespoke play features designed to inspire children’s imaginations.

The Enchanted Forest is complemented 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 illustrations.

Mrs Grant said: “Our imaginative play has been the secret of our success, and we wanted to recreate 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 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 and member of PlayFirstUK, 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.

“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.”

The attraction will also help to raise money for the charity, Martin House Children’s Hospice in Wetherby.

Mr Grant 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 Picford, 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.”