Aviary may go in £3m Abbey Gardens revamp

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THE aviary in the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds could be removed under a £3 million revamp planned by St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

The council is due to find out whether it has been successful in its Heritage Lottery bid next month.

If successful, it will look to move or remove the aviary, which has been part of the Abbey Gardens since the 1950s.

Damien Parker, parks manager said: “It is clearly very contentious. At the moment our bid does not say categorically that the aviary would be removed. But we do want to move the aviary.

“It is really because behind it there is a wall of historic significance.

“It is clear that there are those that have very strong opinions on us keeping caged birds, but we also appreciate that there are a proportion of people who feel they would like us to keep the aviary.”

Either way, if the bid is successful the aviary will be moved. Mr Parker said a public consultation would be launched to decide if the aviary should go altogether or if it should be relocated to a different spot within the gardens.

Cllr David Nettleton and resident Simon Harding both raised concerns about the loss of the aviary at Tuesday night’s full council meeting.

Speaking to the Bury Free Press, Cllr Nettleton said: “It is really lovely down there. The aviary is a nice tranquil little area. I don’t mind it being improved but I wouldn’t want it removed.

“I used to take my children down there. Small children do enjoy looking at the birds. It is an educational aid as well as being enjoyable.”

The plans also include the removal of a gift shop, water gardens – which is not accessible due to health and safety constraints – and bowling green which the council says would allow greater access to the ruins and which Cllr Nettleton said was under-used.

Tennis courts would be moved to a different part of the gardens.

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White told Tuesday night’s meeting that the plans had already gone through consultation with the Friends of the Abbey Gardens group.