Inside Gorleston's 'secret garden' with no way in

Inside the former gardens of Koolunga House Gorleston

The former formal gardens are completely overgrown. - Credit: Liz Coates

Amid the thick ivy and deep undergrowth there is no hint of the formal gardens that once spread out around Koolunga House.

As well as colourful butterflies you are just as likely to spot an old push bike or pile of brick rubble at the site in High Road, Gorleston.

Inside the former gardens of Koolunga House Gorleston

The remains of a tumbledown shed in the High Road gardens, where tree works are proposed by the new owner. - Credit: Liz Coates

For new owner Paul Carter it presents the kind of challenge he embraces, chiming with his love of the outdoors.

The 45-year-old former soldier is sharing his vision after a bid to carry out tree works sparked anger and suspicion about his intentions with one person tagging the proposal as  "despicable ecocide." 

Inside the former gardens of Koolunga House Gorleston

The gardens at Gorleston have become a dumping ground according to the new owner. - Credit: Liz Coates

He is assuring residents they have "nothing to fear" from his ownership saying he loves the garden too, and only wants to make it usable.

And while in the long term he couldn't rule out asking planners for a dwelling for himself he was content to keep it as a garden to pass on to his children.

Residents objected to plans to build a new house within the Koolunga House's former historic grounds

Residents objected to plans to build a new house within the Koolunga House's former historic grounds - with the developer's appeal being dismissed on August 18. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

It comes after a bid to build on the site was dismissed on appeal by a government planning inspector.


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He said healthy trees were being choked by ivy and that many on the site were self-seeded.

His plan was to return it to private garden use which would include planting an orchard, new trees and possibly building a summer house.

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"I just want to make it a safe space for us to enjoy," he said.

Inside the former gardens of Koolunga House Gorleston

The only way in to the garden is over the wall. The new owner Paul Carter is likely to seek planning permission for access. - Credit: Liz Coates

"Where else can you get anything like this? I just want to be genuine and transparent."

The former soldier said he did not want make enemies over his plans and was shocked by the backlash.

Inside the former gardens of Koolunga House Gorleston

A rope swing and a plastic chair inside the former Koolunga House gardens. - Credit: Liz Coates

He said he understood it was a "sensitive" site and that there was a lot of affection for the space but that careful work was needed to manage it.

There were also safety concerns to do with pressure on the bulging wall and passing buses.

Work to four of the trees has been approved, two of which were completely dead and will be left as standing poles.

A new application has been asked for a Holme oak and an elm.

Inside the former gardens of Koolunga House Gorleston

A view from the gardens towards Koolunga House, once a mansion, now divided into flats. - Credit: Liz Coates

The borough council's tree officer Graeme Watson said in his report the site was of high value "as a green resource" and needed to be managed as such.

To view the documents visit the borough council's planning portal via its website.

Inside the former gardens of Koolunga House Gorleston

The former gardens to Koolunga House are virtually impassable. - Credit: Liz Coates

Inside the former gardens of Koolunga House Gorleston

The gardens that used to belong to Koolunga House are completely overgrown and in separate ownership. - Credit: Liz Coates

Inside the former gardens of Koolunga House Gorleston

View along High Road from the inside of the gardens where a bid to carry out tree works has sparked alarm. The new owner has responded saying people have 'nothing to fear.' - Credit: Liz Coates

Inside the former gardens of Koolunga House Gorleston

The remains of a planter on a tree at the former Koolunga gardens which are thick with vegetation. - Credit: Liz Coates

Inside the former gardens of Koolunga House Gorleston

A former formal garden is now a thick woodland. The new owner wants to return it to private garden use. - Credit: Liz Coates


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