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Nature trail along River Lark in Bury St Edmunds to re-open to public after five year battle

A neglected nature trail in Bury St Edmunds - dubbed ‘Bury’s secret garden’ - is to finally be given a new lease of life after a five-year campaign by a group of residents.

The Lark Valley Project will see a section of the River Lark path, located along the back of Fornham Road, cleaned up and managed with a view to opening to the public next spring.

The move comes after an agreement made between British Sugar and St Edmundsbury Borough Council for a long-term, rent-free lease of the land which runs alongside the river and the factory site. The council will pay a £25,000 premium to secure the revised boundaries.

Supporters of the Lark Valley Path project, including Jo Churchill MP, gather at the site (6786006)
Supporters of the Lark Valley Path project, including Jo Churchill MP, gather at the site (6786006)

It is also the result of a five-year fight for the land by The Bury Water Meadows Group, which works to protect and restore ancient green spaces in the town.

Andrew Hinchley, group chairman, said: “It has been a long held ambition both of the group and of the council to bring this area back into public use and achieve environmental improvements.

“I am delighted that British Sugar is able to support this wonderful initiative by transferring this stretch of land to the Council. We look forward to working with the Council over the coming months to make the necessary improvements that will enable this area to be opened to the public.”

Group members met councillors Julia Wakelam and Joanna Rayner, long-term supporters of the scheme, and Jo Churchill MP on Friday to celebrate the milestone.

Jo Churchill MP
Jo Churchill MP

Cllr Wakelam said: “This has taken a long time to come to fruition but I think it’s going to be an amazing facility for the people of Bury St Edmunds. It’s another green space and encourages people to get outside.”

Mrs Churchill added: “I’m a great lover of water and green spaces and this is Bury’s own secret garden. I’d like to thank all those who have come together to make this happen. It’s another great meeting of people in Bury to deliver a result and it’s all good as far as I’m concerned.”

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