Heritage funding bid for park

Peggy Smith and other Volunteers help clear the banks at Clare Castle Country Park.'Pic - Richard Marsham ANL-150316-164352009
Peggy Smith and other Volunteers help clear the banks at Clare Castle Country Park.'Pic - Richard Marsham ANL-150316-164352009

With just one hurdle to overcome before Clare takes over the ownership of its country park, the details of how a £1.5million Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant will enhance its future prosperity have been revealed.

The park is in the process of being transferred from Suffolk County Council to Clare Town Council – with the former giving the latter £317,500 as part of the deal.

All that is currently required for the switch to be finalised is for the Charity Commission to approve the registration of the trust that is going to manage the park on behalf of the town council.

With the legal transfer nearing its conclusion, the trustees are now putting together a bid for the HLF grant, one that they aim to submit by the end of June.

The chairman of the trustees, Geoffrey Bray, emphasised the importance of getting the grant.

He said: “We want it to be something that helps businesses in the town.

“We want to make the park just one part of what makes Clare an exciting and interesting place to work and live in.”

The grant will help to protect the heritage of the park, particularly the castle walls, moat and ponds that have been neglected and need significant improvement.

Desilting the ponds and moat will cost almost £200,000 but, once done, the trust intends to put by money each year so that, when the task needs repeating, it will have the funds to do so.

The grant will also enable a wide range of improvements in order to generate the income needed to cover the estimated £100,000-a-year upkeep costs.

Other possible ideas for the park include installing interpretation boards to explain more about its history and linking the walks to other footpaths.

The trustees also want to tidy up the old railway station buildings and make it look more like a station by laying some track and maybe putting in some static carriages that could potentially be used for small exhibitions or as a cafe.

Almost 120 people have signed up to work as volunteers in the park, while regular working parties, usually of at least 50 people, have already gone out on more than 10 occasions to carry out maintenance jobs.