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Residents take up gardening tools to reclaim Old Library Wood in Thorpe Hamlet after years of neglect and anti-social behaviour

PUBLISHED: 15:25 04 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:17 08 November 2017

Residents help clear the Old Library Woods in Rosary Road, Norwich.
 Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Residents help clear the Old Library Woods in Rosary Road, Norwich. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434

It is an attractive green wedge which has become known as a hot-spot for drugs, prostitution and other anti-social behaviour.

Residents help clear the Old Library Woods in Rosary Road, Norwich.
 Picture: SONYA DUNCAN Residents help clear the Old Library Woods in Rosary Road, Norwich. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

But now, residents who live around Old Library Wood in Thorpe Hamlet are taking up gloves, rakes and saws in an effort to reclaim the area for their families and the wider Norwich community.

About 15 people gathered at the site off Rosary Road today (Saturday, November 4) for the clean-up, which is part of a project that will hopefully earn the site a much brighter reputation.

Adam Murray is chairman of the Old Library Wood Collective which formed in March this year.

Mr Murray, 39, said he was thrilled the volunteers finally had the chance to roll up their sleeves and start work at the site after months of planning.

Residents help clear the Old Library Woods in Rosary Road, Norwich.
 Picture: SONYA DUNCAN Residents help clear the Old Library Woods in Rosary Road, Norwich. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

He said: “We’ve produced a management plan which looks at how we will develop the site so that it’s safe and so people can use it more as a public space, rather than just a cut-through.

“Hopefully that will reduce the anti-social behaviour we get here and in the whole area.”

MORE: Human wombles join litter pick in park of Rosary Road to help clean up image of area blighted by drug dealers and prostitutes

Matt Davies of the Norfolk Fringe Project, which provided the tools and expertise for the clean-up, said: “This is a great opportunity to work with the community and help them to manage to the site and gain ownership of it.”

Residents help clear the Old Library Woods in Rosary Road, Norwich.
 Picture: SONYA DUNCAN Residents help clear the Old Library Woods in Rosary Road, Norwich. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Mr Murray said the collective had also worked with Norwich City Council and the police on the plan to improve the site.

Fi Leggo, another collective member, said they hoped to make the wood safe by “opening up sight lines” through taking out overgrown trees and shrubs.

She said they eventually hoped to put in park benches, wooden sculptures and even a bookcase where people could leave and take books for free. She said: “We want to carry on until it’s a lovely, beautiful park again.”

MORE: City park dubbed a focal point for drug taking, sex workers and anti-social behaviour

Residents help clear the Old Library Woods in Rosary Road, Norwich.
 Picture: SONYA DUNCAN Residents help clear the Old Library Woods in Rosary Road, Norwich. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Mr Murray said: “I’m a dad with a seven-year-old and a three-year-old, and I want to be able to bring my kids in here and enjoy it as a family. Overall it’s going to improve the well-being of everyone in the neighbourhood and prove that Norwich is not only a fine city but a happy city.”

The Old Library Wood Collective is vying for a Aviva Community Fund grant to help it improve the wood. To vote for the project, visit www.community-fund.aviva.co.uk, or learn more at www.oldlibrarywood.org

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