Plantation Garden in Norwich will be closed for ‘a few weeks’ from tonight

Tony Burlingham. Photo: Bill Smith Photo: Bill Smith Archant � 2012 (01603) 772434

Tony Burlingham. Photo: Bill Smith Photo: Bill Smith Archant � 2012 (01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant � 2007

Norwich's Plantation Garden will be closed to the public for 'a few weeks' from tonight.

The Plantation Garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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

Access to the site, off Earlham Road, is to be boarded up following concerns about sinkholes in the area.

Tony Burlingham, who owns three MJB Hotels around the Victorian garden, said the closure was necessary for underground assessments to take place.

It comes after sinkholes opened up at his Plantation House Hotel, The Beeches Hotel, and the Governors Hotel.

Roger Connah, chairman of the Plantation Garden Trust, met with Mr Burlingham yesterday to plan the investigation into the sinkholes.

He said: 'It was agreed that public access to the garden will not be permitted during the tests that are to be carried out in the next few weeks.

'But the trustees of Plantation Garden, the gardeners and the security guards will be able to get into the site on foot through an alternative route provided by Mr Burlingham.

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'Thus the garden will continue to be maintained and its security should not be compromised.'

There are two sets of tests proposed. The first will check the driveway to Plantation House to ensure it is safe for use by heavy machinery.

Vehicles will be required to use the route in order to repair the hotel which suffered from a sinkhole last April.

The second test will be carried out by Norwich City Council to establish whether a tunnel from the sinkhole continues into the garden.

Underground probing will establish whether the ground above the tunnel is safe and if any work is required.

Mr Connah added: 'Going forward all parties hope that the area will be checked for safety and that the Plantation Garden will open in a few weeks.'

History of the Plantation Garden

The gardens were created on the site of a former chalk quarry located just outside the old city walls.

Henry Trevor, a prosperous upholsterer and cabinet maker from Norwich, took out a long lease on the site in 1856.

And he spent the next 40 years transforming the land into a Victorian garden, complete with a fountain, rustic bridge and terraces.

But after the Second World War, the garden was abandoned. It was only until the Planation Garden Preservation Trust took on the site, that it was restored after years of work.

The land is owned by the Preacher's Money Charity, which is leased to Norwich City Council and sublet to the Planation Garden Preservation Trust, which manages the garden.