Council makes £1m Lottery bid to develop popular town park

A POPULAR Bury St Edmunds park could undergo drastic changes if a council’s £1 million Heritage Lottery Fund, Parks for People, bid is successful.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council has unveiled plans to significantly alter the design of the Abbey Gardens, with the removal of the park’s bowling green and water garden and the relocation of its tennis courts.

A council spokeswoman said: “The Abbey Gardens are an atmospheric and unusual mix of ancient monument, listed garden and recreational public park, which are enjoyed by over a million visitors a year. The programme offers a unique opportunity to integrate its development and conserve the landscape for the long term.”

Plans include enhancing the formal gardens and the setting of the Abbey ruins, as well as improving all site entrances and restoring the Abbey Gate.

A new entrance has been proposed from the churchyard, in addition to a new accessible route around the ruins, a new footpath link across Abbot’s bridge and a new bridge access from the park’s play space into the Crankles area.

Alan Jary, chairman of the Bury Society said: “We would be very passionate about the wow factor and the colour in the centre of the Abbey Gardens.”

He added: “Like any plans, there’s selective pieces that we might say we’d do differently but I think overall we understand where the council is coming from.”

Next Saturday the council will seek users’ views and comments on the plans during an exhibition at the Athenaeum, on Angel Hill, Bury, from 11am to 3pm.

There will also be the chance for users to record their memories of the Abbey Gardens and families will be welcome, with seasonal activities for children, a play corner for the very young and snacks and drinks for all.

The result of the council’s Lottery bid will be known in July next year.