Caravan and camping site could come to West Stow Country Park, near Bury St Edmunds, as council seeks to boost income

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- Credit: Gregg Brown

One of west Suffolk’s biggest tourist attractions is planning to expand, with the council applying for permission to bring a camping and caravan park to West Stow Country Park.

The 125 acre site already attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year, but St Edmundsbury Borough Council are looking to boost the appeal and income from the park.

It is hoped that expansion at the council-owned site will bring with it extra jobs and a boost to tourism in the borough.

Sarah Stamp, cabinet member for leisure, culture and heritage, said: “We are striving to be more commercial and are looking across the board for new ways to increase income by exploring opportunities to work with commercial or community partners.

“That in turn will go some way towards offering greater protection for the facilities and services we know people value, and to the tax payer in terms of the amount they pay.

“This will hopefully create new jobs and add value to our wonderful Green Flag award winning country park.

“Where else can you learn ancient Anglo Saxon skills one week, see rampaging orcs the next, followed by a nice relaxing woodland walk by the river?

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“West Stow Country Park already has a great deal to offer, but we are keen to look at ways that we can make it even better.”

The park’s most visited attraction is the Anglo Saxon village, built on the footings of the excavated original buildings and constructed using the same tools, techniques and materials that would have been used 1500 years ago.

For the last 12 years, the park, on the Edge of the King’s Forest, just outside Bury St Edmunds, has also been the home to a Lord of the Rings themed event, known as RingQuest, which saw two bumper years since the release of The Hobbit movies.

Held twice a year, 2013 saw 317 families turn out in total and 371 in 2014, up on 223 in 2012.

The borough council is launching a market consultation and hopes to hear from any interested community groups, voluntary groups, as well as commercial operators who may have proposals for the park.

Beccy Hopfensperger, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for localities, environment and waste, said: “I very much welcome any new opportunity which encourages tourism in the county and an increase of visitors to such attractions.

“I assume that any proposals will enhance and not jeopardise the important wildlife areas and historic grounds and I encourage the local community to fully engage with the council’s consultation over these proposals.”

Anybody interested in discussing a leisure proposal for West Stow Country Park should complete a form at www.suffolksourcing.co.uk and return it no later than 9th February 2015. Alternatively you can contact richard.hartley@westsuffolk.gov.uk or phone 01284 757055.