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Major country park sold for just £1 to new owner

PUBLISHED: 13:24 15 February 2018 | UPDATED: 14:58 15 February 2018

Kimanya Randall and her two year-old daughter Emily feeding the ducks at Brandon Country Park. Picture: Ian Burt

Kimanya Randall and her two year-old daughter Emily feeding the ducks at Brandon Country Park. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

A popular country park which attracts 175,000 visitors per year has been sold to a new owner for just £1.

Brandon Country Park. Picture: Ian BurtBrandon Country Park. Picture: Ian Burt

Forest Heath District Council agreed to take on Brandon Country Park for the nominal fee after its future was put in doubt.

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet had agreed to sell the much-loved beauty spot in December in a bid to save on the £50,000 annual running costs.

That created some uncertainty over the future of the wild landscape of forests, heathlands and nature trails, which are among the most popular tourist destinations in the region.

But councillors have backed the decision to transfer management of the site, which includes a tea room and gift shop, play area, walled garden, lake and mausoleum, to Forest Heath.

At Brandon Country Park are (from left) Farid (9), Jed (7) and Kasha (9). Picture: Ian BurtAt Brandon Country Park are (from left) Farid (9), Jed (7) and Kasha (9). Picture: Ian Burt

Councillor Andy Drummond, portfolio holder for leisure and culture for Forest Heath Council, said: “I am glad we have been able to work with the county council to secure the future of the country park for our communities.

“Parks are not just important in protecting our local environment and wildlife but vital in improving health and wellbeing.”

The park also boasts the Brandon Engine House, which was reopened last year after it was restored by Breaking New Ground Landscape Partnership.

Edward Bliss's Mausoleum at Brandon Country Park. Picture: Ian BurtEdward Bliss's Mausoleum at Brandon Country Park. Picture: Ian Burt

MORE - Historic engine house at Brandon Country Park officially opened after restoration works by 90-year-old whose family lived on site

It includes a conference room and areas for community groups, organisations and businesses.

There are a range of walking and cycling trails which take in the vast park and the site hosts a Parkrun and a regular programme of guided walks and events throughout the year.

Having fun at Brandon Country Park are sisters (L) Lyla (7) and Olivia Pitchford (8). Picture: Ian BurtHaving fun at Brandon Country Park are sisters (L) Lyla (7) and Olivia Pitchford (8). Picture: Ian Burt

MORE - Spooky costumes and smiling faces on show at Brandon Country Park’s Pumpkin Fest

To help the transition, Suffolk County Council will pay £25,000 for a year after ownership is transferred.

County, district and Brandon Town councillor Victor Lukaniuk said: “It is an important venue and it is magnificent down there and long may it continue.

Brandon Country Park. Picture: Ian BurtBrandon Country Park. Picture: Ian Burt

“There is the new engine room up there and the council can utilise that as a building to use for the community.

“It is a little gem.”

Forest Heath said they will produce a 10-year plan to look at further opportunities to “improve the offer” at the park.

A number of conditions were put in place at Forest Heath’s cabinet meeting, including a commitment to the ongoing use of the site as a country park and provision of a range of events for the community.

A youngster at the Brandon Country Park play area. Picture: Ian BurtA youngster at the Brandon Country Park play area. Picture: Ian Burt

Youngsters at the Brandon Country Park play area. Picture: Ian BurtYoungsters at the Brandon Country Park play area. Picture: Ian Burt

What do visitors enjoy about Brandon Country Park?

Brandon Country Park. Picture: Ian BurtBrandon Country Park. Picture: Ian Burt

Vicky Pitchford, from Thetford, said she often brings her daughters Olivia, 8, and Lyla, 7, to the park.

“It just something different. It doesn’t cost a lot and the kids love it. They like doing the trails.”

Ali Mathers, 43, and Jaz Killingworth, 23, both from Brandon, say they walk up from their houses with a picnic.

Brandon Country Park. Picture: Ian BurtBrandon Country Park. Picture: Ian Burt

“Every school holidays we come here and the kids love it. The activities are nice and there is always something to do. It is very popular and the pumpkin festival last year was brilliant.”

Kimanya Randall, 32, from Brandon was visiting with her daughters Emily, 2, and Isla, six months.

“It is such a lovely park and we come here all the time. We are lucky to have this place. I have three boys so to have the park so close is nice.

“It would be a shame if something happened to it. It is one of the nice things about Brandon.”

On the trail at Brandon Country Park are sisters (R) Lyla (7) and Olivia Pitchford (8). Picture: Ian BurtOn the trail at Brandon Country Park are sisters (R) Lyla (7) and Olivia Pitchford (8). Picture: Ian Burt

Edward Bliss's Mausoleum at Brandon Country Park. Picture: Ian BurtEdward Bliss's Mausoleum at Brandon Country Park. Picture: Ian Burt

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