Norwich City Council to carry out underground probing of Plantation Garden following sinkhole concerns

Plantation Gardens on Earlham Road, Norwich for EDP Sunday. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY COPY:steve snelling

Plantation Gardens on Earlham Road, Norwich for EDP Sunday. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY COPY:steve snelling FOR:EDP sunday � ARCHANT NORFOLK 2010 (01603 772434) - Credit: � ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

The city council is to carry out underground probing work at a Victorian garden following concerns of sinkholes in the area.

Emails seen by this newspaper show Norwich City Council has appointed A F Howland Associates to carry out the work at the Plantation Garden on January 31.

It comes as Tony Burlingham, who owns the MJB Hotel chain, announced he was planning to close access to the site, off Earlham Road, tomorrow.

He said three sinkholes had opened up at three of his surrounding properties, and a geotechnical survey was needed to make sure the area was safe.

An email from NPS Norwich now reveals that the city council intends to carry out its own probe testing of the garden.

It follows the suggestion that a chalk mine, which caused a sinkhole at Plantation House Hotel and the Governs Hotel, also runs beneath the site.

A spokesman for the city council was unable to confirm whether the work would be taking place.

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But an email from NPS asks Mr Burlingham for permission to access his land to carry out the tests on Tuesday.

Speaking about the access closures, Mr Burlingham said: 'What we are saying is, make sure the ground is safe and then come in.

'I don't want to shut the gardens, I am just trying to make it safe, so why are they [the trust] saying they want to keep the public in there?

'What are they trying to achieve? There isn't many people using it in February anyway.'

He confirmed today that the entrances to the garden would still be boarded up tomorrow.

While he does not own the garden itself, he owns all of the land leading up to it.

Mr Burlingham said that once his own geotechnical survey was carried out on the access routes, the garden could be reopened by spring.

The issue of the garden's closure was raised at a Norwich City Council meeting on Tuesday evening.

Responding to a question about what efforts the authority was taking to ensure continued access, council leader Alan Waters said: 'We are working hard with the trust to understand how the issues surrounding the gardens can be collectively solved.

'We will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the trust on this matter.'

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