New life for former park bowls green in Ipswich as a support centre

The former site of the Christchurch Bowls Club. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE

The former site of the Christchurch Bowls Club. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: RACHEL EDGE

A former bowling green in Ipswich’s best known park could have a new life as a centre for people with learning difficulties and autism.

The bowling green at Christchurch Park has been abandoned since 2013 when the Christchurch Bowling Club were unable to maintain it - and has been closed to the public.

Now Lisa Correll has applied to take over the clubhouse to provide a centre to give people with special needs the chance to explore the park and exercise dogs.

Because the establishment of a centre for people with learning difficulties would mean the building being leased to a new tenant, the council has had to publish a public notice telling people of the plans - and giving them the chance to object.

Ms Correll said that if there were no objections she hoped to be granted the lease on the former bowls club at the end of next month - and have it ready to start operating during the early autumn.

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She has worked with adults with learning difficulties for many years and has a master's degree. The venture is backed by Suffolk County Council's adult services department.

Ms Correll said: "We think it will take about a month to get ready if we get the lease without any objections - and then we should be able to get going."

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Clients would be referred through the county and would be taught how to look after dogs and take them for a walk in the park.

They would also work with park staff, possibly picking litter and helping with some other basic maintenance.

Ms Correll said: "It is the kind of scheme that is very important to get our clients to engage with places like Christchurch Park.

"We will be eventually be offering a dog care service - but the main aim of this is to work with the clients to provide them with an opportunity to engage with the park and get something valuable out of the sessions there."

The bowling green has been unused since a change in council policy meant that its members became responsible for its upkeep rather than the park rangers.

Christchurch Bowling Club did not have enough younger members to carry out the work needed so its bowls players moved to other bowling clubs in the town leaving the green abandoned - until now.

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