Plans for 25 homes at site of renowned butterfly collector's family home

Protesters gather outside the former Children's services on Upton Road, Norwich. They are protesting

The former home of Norfolk butterfly collector Margaret Fountaine could be turned into homes. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A former NHS children's centre and one-time family home of a renowned Norfolk butterfly expert could be converted into housing.

Plans for Eaton Grange, in Upton Road in Norwich, have been submitted to Norwich City Council.

Applicant LNA Eaton Ltd has lodged proposals which, if approved, would see 25 homes created on the 1.5 acre site.

The main building - Eaton Grange House - was most recently a children's centre, but closed in 2017, having been identified as surplus NHS land under the Naylor review.

Despite protests, its services were moved to the Norwich Community Hospital on Bowthorpe Road.

It had previously been used as a girls' boarding school.

But, in the 19th Century, it was the family home of Margaret Fountaine, renowned for her collection of butterflies.

Margaret Fountaine, Victorian lepidopterist and traveller. Photo: Norfok Museums and Archaeology Ser

Margaret Fountaine, Victorian lepidopterist and traveller. Photo: Norfok Museums and Archaeology Service - Credit: Archant

She was an accomplished natural history illustrator, diarist and adventurer.

Her collection of 22,000 butterfly specimens is housed at Norwich Castle Museum.

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As well as Eaton Grange House, the site includes a smaller building known as the Coach House.

Under plans lodged for the site, Eaton Grange House, a locally-listed building, would be partly demolished and converted into seven apartments.

The Coach House would be converted and extended into a single house.

And new apartment and townhouse buildings would be constructed, giving a total of 25 new homes.

In documents lodged on behalf of the applicants by Norwich-based Lanpro, they state that, with the government signalling it will change the threshold under which developers must provide affordable housing, there is unlikely to be a requirement to provide such housing on the site.

But they say that, if the city council says it is required, the applicant would rather pay what is known as a commuted sum than have the affordable homes on the site.

A commuted sum is money which would enable the equivalent affordable housing to be built or provided on another site.

The documents lodged with City Hall state that the part demolition of Eaton Grange House would involve the removal of a 1950s extension and would "enhance the setting of the original house".

A decision on the application will be made by the city council in due course.

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