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Vision to enhance Norwich’s Castle Gardens for the public

PUBLISHED: 10:11 28 July 2016 | UPDATED: 13:45 28 July 2016

The Norwich Castle gardens, bustling with people in the sunshine. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Norwich Castle gardens, bustling with people in the sunshine. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2016

Perched above the city, the distinctive outline of Norwich Castle is one of the city’s most familiar landmarks.

The Norwich Castle gardens, bustling with people in the sunshine. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY The Norwich Castle gardens, bustling with people in the sunshine. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But while it is also a treasured historic gem - and one of our most popular attractions - the gardens it sits atop are sometimes overlooked in favour of pockets of green elsewhere.

Now, the Castle Gardens and Green are now being targeted in a drive which hopes to attract more footfall and unlock the area’s potential.

As John Litster of the Norwich Society writes here, local charities, Norwich City Council, Norfolk County Council and bodies including the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) gathered for a so-called public realm workshop at the end of June to discuss how to take the gardens out of the castle’s shadow.

It is hoped the ideas - which include working with local musicians, entertainers and eateries - will strengthen connections between the medieval castle and both the surrounding open spaces and former moat below.

Stefan Gurney, executive director of the BID, said making the garden layout more straightforward and creating a “statement piece” to mark the entrance to the moat - which is home to the open-air Whiffler Theatre - were among the ideas mooted.

He said: “In particular, on the side where the Castle Mall car park is, it’s only marked by a very small gate. The opportunity could be, if funding was available, to create a much more visitor-friendly gateway in to the area and connect up to Rose Lane and improve access to the castle.”

But he said that while there were some “clear interventions” that could enhance the gardens, ideas would need to be “achievable” and funding streams identified.

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said they were working closely with their county council colleagues.

“As the owners of Castle Gardens we’ve already been working collaboratively with the county council’s Norfolk Museums Service to explore how the gardens and surrounding area can be put to best use for everyone’s shared enjoyment as part of the exciting plans for the castle,” they said.

The workshop was held as part of the wider multi-million pound Heritage Lottery Fund project transform the castle keep into a premier heritage attraction.

Last December, thousands visited the gardens to try out the Evening News’ ice rink, which is expected to return this year from December 16 to January 8.

• What do you think should be done to improve the gardens? Write in the comments below or email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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