Clare: Lottery grant will help secure park’s future

Keith Haisman

Keith Haisman

A heritage lottery grant has been awarded to help secure the future of a historic Suffolk country park.

Clare Town Council has received £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help it plan and prepare for the ongoing development and maintenance of Clare Country Park.

The asset is owned by Suffolk County Council and managed by St Edmundsbury Borough Council. But due to budget cuts, the county asked for proposals from groups interested in assuming ownership and management of the park.

The town council was one of two interested groups that put in a bid. Its proposal was formulated after extensive local public consultation and had the backing of groups ranging from the Dedham Vale AONB to Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

It is anticipated that following discussions and negotiations with the county council over issues including a proposed contribution to bring the park buildings back into a state of repair, the ownership of Clare Country Park will be transferred from Suffolk to Clare Town Council early next year.

Once transfer is complete, Clare Town Council will own the land and buildings – including the remains of the 13th century stone castle keep – as “custodian trustee”.

The running of the park will be delegated to an independent charitable trust.

Most Read

According to town council chairman Keith Haisman, the Heritage Lottery Fund grant will support the council’s ambitions to ensure that the park becomes a sustainable and accessible community space.

He said the money would enable the council to draw on the extensive experience of a number of specialists, from the historic environment to engaging visitors.

This would equip trustees to be able to better manage and protect the locally loved park into the future.

He said “We’re very grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for this funding.

“Clare Castle Country Park is the heart of the town and valued by everyone.

“Once we take ownership, we are committed to ensuring that the park will thrive.

“We’re excited to be at the start of a journey that will hopefully return the park to its best.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund uses money raised by the National Lottery to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities.

So far it has raised more than £370million across the East of England for everything from museums, parks and historic places to archaeology.