Part of Plantation House could be demolished after 20ft sink hole opened up

The hole which has opened up causing subsidence to the MJB hotel on Earlham Road, Norwich.
PHOTO BY

The hole which has opened up causing subsidence to the MJB hotel on Earlham Road, Norwich. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

It has stood on Earlham Road for 160 years and now part of Plantation House could be demolished due to subsidence into chalk quarries beneath the building.

Subsidence at MJB Plantation Hotel on Earlham Road, Norwich.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Subsidence at MJB Plantation Hotel on Earlham Road, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

In April last year the house and surrounding gardens were closed off after a 20ft sink hole opened up beneath the property, owned by MJB's Tony Burlingham.

Since then scaffolding has been in place to protect the structure, and after extensive tests in the area from Norwich City Council, work can now begin to fill in the hole permanently and resurface the access.

It involves demolishing and rebuilding part of the Grade II listed house, built in 1857 by businessman Henry Trevor.

A heritage statement, written by One Planning Consultants and submitted to Norwich City Council, reads: 'A sink hole has formed under Plantation House causing the south‐east corner of the building to drop causing movement within the structure and cracking to masonry and a number of architectural features. The sink hole was temporarily filled with foamed concrete and structural scaffolding erected to prevent further damage to the building.


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'The proposed partial demolition, reconstruction and reinstatement works will repair the damage caused by the opening of the sink hole and enable the removal of structural scaffolding from the building. The filling to the sink hole will ensure this will no longer be an issue.

'The proposed works will see the building repaired and brought back into reuse.'

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Subsidence affected the adjacent Plantation Gardens, which had its access cut off while tests were carried out to reveal the extent of chalk quarry tunnels in the area.

Chairman of the Plantation Gardens Trust Roger Connah said: 'I am relieved to see they will eventually be getting on with the building because it has been nearly two years. As long as they let the garden remain open to the public throughout the operation we will be very pleased.

'This will put us back to the status quo as it was before. There was a concern a year ago that there was a tunnel underneath the garden. That has been resolved by tests and there is no tunnel affecting us. There was also concern there were soft spots under the access drive, which has been proved to be quite sound for the type of traffic we use.

'I just can't understand why it has taken so long. It will take months to complete once it gets started because this is a significant repair to the house, but it has now been almost two years since the subsidence opened up.'

The plans are yet to be determined by Norwich City Council.

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