Much debate over hotel owner’s decision to close off access to Norwich’s Plantation Gardens

The Plantation Garden in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Plantation Garden in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

News that the owner of a controversial hotel chain is to close off access to Norwich's Plantation Gardens has sparked a lot of debate on social media.

Tony Burlingham, who runs MJB Hotels including the Plantation Hotel next to the Plantation Gardens, plans to board up the entrances to the city beauty spot on January 27 due to health and safety concerns.

It comes after a 20ft sinkhole opened up at the side of the Plantation Hotel last April.

Mr Burlingham said his decision to ban access to the gardens was due to his insurance company withdrawing its cover at the end of the month.

While Mr Burlingham does not own the gardens, which are located off Earlham Road, he owns all of the access routes leading to it.


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Roger Connah, chairman of the Plantation Garden Preservation Trust, has said the trust has a permanent legal right of access and the decision to close the access could result in legal action.

On the Norwich Evening News Facebook page people have been voicing their sadness about the loss of access to the Plantation Gardens later this month, with many calling for something to be done to stop this happening.

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Hilary Gostling: 'Such a shame and, as already commented, such a waste-that a solution can't be found that could allow this beautiful little gem to remain accessible to the public.'

Etienne Baron Legrono Dutoy said: 'No. Don't just accept that's the end. This has to stay open to the public, it really does, it is a gem.'

Fay Leggett said: 'That would be such a terrible thing to do. It is such a beautiful garden where you can spend some peaceful time and see something different every time you visit.'

Julia Hill said: 'We can't let this happen!'

However others said they could understand Mr Burlingham's viewpoint.

Celia Dean Williams said: 'It is the right thing to do and the Trust must surely support the action and look to resolve this issue in the interests of health and safety. It is very sad and shocking but seems to me the Hotel Owner is left with no alternative.'

Elaine Toull said: 'He has no option, unfortunately we live in a world where people fall over and sue rather than picking up their own feet!'

Claire Salmon said: 'Surely he's doing the right thing if there's no insurance and someone was to hurt themselves he'd be sued.'

Meanwhile on Twitter ‏@girlhermes said, 'Gutted by this news. Norwich's Plantation Gardens are so precious,' and @Underc0verEmily said: 'Norwich plantation gardens are closing :((((.'

@LabourNelson said: 'Nelson Labour are very concerned about MJB owner's decision to close off access to Plantation Gardens.'

As previously reported, Mr Burlingham has said: 'The insurance company has withdrawn my subsidence cover and has made me aware, as a director, of the issue.'

He added: 'I now have to do something to mitigate the risk, because if a sinkhole opened up and someone injured themselves, I would be done for negligence. It is a matter of health and safety.'

The decision means the Plantation Garden Preservation Trust, which maintains the site, will have just two weeks to move out its equipment.

Mr Burlingham said a geotechinical survey needed to be carried out on the garden to understand how safe the ground was.

But he added that this would be the responsibility of either the trust or Norwich City Council.

Roger Connah, chairman of the Plantation Garden Preservation Trust, said the decision to close the access could result in legal action.

'We have a permanent legal right of access and we expect that to continue,' he said.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Norwich City Council said it was a 'very complex' issue, which would likely take time to

resolve.

What is you view of the situation with the Plantation Gardens? Post your comments below.

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