Plantation Garden remains closed, but Norwich City Council says it is ‘satisfied’ site is safe for public to use

The Plantation Gardens in Norwich. Pic: ANTONY KELLY
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The Plantation Gardens in Norwich. Pic: ANTONY KELLY . - Credit: � ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

An underground survey of Norwich's Plantation Garden has determined that the land is safe for the public to use.

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

Norwich City Council appointed a geotechnical engineering firm last month to investigate a small section of the garden, off Earlham Road.

The assessment had been due to take place just days after Tony Burlingham, who owns the MJB Hotel chain, closed off all access to site last month.

He made the decision after sinkholes opened up at three of his properties surrounding the Victorian gardens.

It had been suggested that an underground chalk mine had caused subsidence, and that it could also run beneath the garden site.

Tony Burlingham who runs the MJB Hotels. Photo: EDP library

Tony Burlingham who runs the MJB Hotels. Photo: EDP library - Credit: Archant � 2007


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But a city council spokesperson has today said it was 'satisfied' the land was safe for people to use.

The spokesperson explained: 'Following a ground investigation by independent geotechnical engineers on a small section of land owned by the council behind the right-of-way path into the site, we're now satisfied it's safe for Plantation Garden employees and visitors to use.

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'However, we understand Mr Burlingham will need to arrange for a similar ground investigation to be done on the pathway leading into the garden to fully assess any potential risk.

'We hope for a speedy resolution in order that the Plantation Garden can be re-opened as soon as possible for everyone to enjoy.'

Mr Burlingham said sinkholes had opened at his Plantation House Hotel, the Governors Hotel and The Beeches Hotel.

It resulted in all three of the properties having to temporarily close until underground assessments took place.

Speaking today, he said his insurance company's surveyors were still waiting for a drilling rig to become available.

But he added he was confident access to the garden would be restored at some point next month once the assessments had been carried out.

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.

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