Play area approved in next stage of community green space project

Suffolk Rural students and staff with Desiree Shelley, chair of the Oaks Meadow project

Suffolk Rural students and staff with Desiree Shelley, chairwoman of the Oaks Meadow project, who is pictured second from left - Credit: Suffolk Rural

Families in Combs and Little Finborough will be able to enjoy a new play area, with a mud kitchen, tower and slide and basketball area, as approval is given to further transform a four-acre plot of land. 

Permission to change the agricultural land to a children's play area was granted by Mid-Suffolk District Council on December 20. 

Wooden structures, including a Tree Top Tangle Trail and a ship-themed piece of equipment, will form part of the play area, with outdoor exercise equipment - a rower and arm and pedal bicycle - also installed. 

A gazebo will be erected to provide a covered meeting area for people using the community space. 

The application forms the second part of the Oaks Meadow project, which seeks to increase community cohesion around Combs and the surrounding villages. 

The project was first conceived in February 2020, but pandemic restrictions meant that all work was put on hold. 

Tree-planting resumed in April 2021, with some support from Suffolk Rural and The Woodland Trust.

The layout for the Oaks Meadow project includes a wildlife pond and play area

The proposed scheme for Oaks Meadow at Combs Picture: DES SHELLEY - Credit: Des Shelley

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Speaking about the project, chairwoman of Oak Meadows and owner of the land Desiree Shelley said: "The community is extremely excited because we have no facilities in this village at all.

"We have a growing young population, I'm pleased to say, with several new babies being born of late. So everyone's quite excited about having somewhere to go to meet people and socialise because I think that's become very important to everybody.

"Now we've got the planning permission and the space we just need to raise some money to put this together.

"We've done an awful lot in a year and now want to get more planting done and set up more gardens and the play area in 2022."

The land has been used for community activity for many years - the Combs Fete was held there for 11 years until 2018 - but not regularly. 

The Oak Meadows project aims to change that, with a proposed vegetable plot, wildlife habitats and spots for social gatherings that are otherwise limited in the villages. 

An eco-friendly village hall is also planned as part of the project, but planning permission has not yet been sought for this construction.