Suffolk: People’s parks move a step closer

Nearly three-quarters of Suffolk’s parks and recreation spots could be saved from closure by the public.

Local groups have come forward with “strong proposals” for 14 of the 19 sites Suffolk County Council wants to transfer to the community.

But proposals are yet to be submitted for five areas, including Ipswich’s Belstead Meadows, which will remain open while a solution is sought.

Dunwich Greyfriars Trust has been established to own and manage the Greyfriars monastery and wood site.

The charitable group intends to encourage biodiversity, maintain public access to the current buildings and enhance the education and recreation benefits provided by the site.

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Geoffrey Abell, the trust’s chairman designate, said: “The Greyfriars site is very important to Dunwich, both as a village amenity and as an attraction to our many visitors. For some time, village volunteers have helped manage the woodland area of the site.

“We saw the council’s proposal to transfer the running of the site as an opportunity for our community to conserve Greyfriars and ensure it has a long term future.”

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Other proposals include turning Barham picnic site into football pitches to support the local football club. Trevor Girling, parish council chairman, said: “We are pleased that we are able to influence the future of Barham picnic site.

“Instead of just closing the site, we are now able to use the site to develop football pitches for Claydon Football Club, which are much needed in this area.”

Meanwhile, a group of local canoeists have proposed running the riverside Cattawade picnic site, in the heart of Constable Country, as a community interest company and expanding the car park to allow for additional parking during peak boating season.

Judy Terry, the council’s Greenest County chief, said: “I am very pleased that we’ve received such a wealth of innovative and interesting proposals for the sites, and I look forward to working with the community in developing these further to ensure their plans can be realised.

“It’s important to me that these assets remain available to the community and we’ll continue to be flexible with our approach to ensure that this can happen.”

Suffolk County Council will be talking to the groups about developing plans to ensure they are financially viable, fit the needs of the community and are sustainable in the long term.

The council will be speaking to local parishes and communities to find solutions for the five remaining sites. Funding has now been made available to keep the sites open while discussions take place.

Proposals have been submitted for the following 14 sites:

Barham Picnic Site,

Bawdsey Quay Huts

Bawdsey Felixstowe Jetties

Bramford Picnic Site and Bramford Local Nature Reserve

Brandon County Park

Cattawade Picnic Site, Brantham

Clare Country Park, Clare

Greyfriars Monastery and Wood, Dunwich

Fen Alder Carr, Creeting

Haughley Picnic Site

Knettishall Heath Country Park

Melford Walk

Rodbridge Picnic Site, Long Melford

Valley Walk, Sudbury.

The sites for which no proposal has yet been received are:

Belstead Meadows

East Lane Car Park, Bawdsey

Lavenham Walk

Ramparts Field Picnic Site, Icklingham

Toby’s Walk, Blythburgh.

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