Tudor Hall Community Garden could rejuvenate wasteland in Norwich

A community-spirited scheme is under way to transform a 'muggers' paradise' in central Norwich into a productive urban garden.

The project aims to revive a patch of wasteland behind the disused nightclub on Rose Lane previously known as Tudor Hall, then Peppermint Park.

It is being organised by the Fifth Quarter, a group aiming to involve local people in developing edible community gardens in the city.

More than 40 people attended a public meeting on Friday night at the Kings Centre on nearby King Street, where the site was decsribed as 'muggers' paradise where drug deals were common.

Eleven landscaping designs were displayed by group members, with aspirations for fruit trees and bushes, raised beds full of vegetables and herbs, containerised planters, and benches.

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Work is set to begin as soon as a temporary lease agreed with landowners Norwich City Council is signed, which includes a clause that the site must be vacated at six months' notice if it is subsequently required for development.

The Fifth Quarter was founded by Richard Southwood and Ashley Erlam, initially for the residents of Parmentergate Court on Mountergate, where another edible garden scheme is already under way.

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Mr Southwood said: 'The Fifth Quarter was established to provide a vehicle for local residents to improve interaction with their neighbours, improve the environment and understand more about growing their own food.

'This garden will be free of charge, it will attract wildlife and it will stop antisocial behaviour. There are drug deals done here, and I used to come along and find handbags emptied out that had been stolen on Prince of Wales Road.

'We are hoping that people will see it as an oasis of calm, which will be a resource both for the community and the businesses around here.'

Mr Erlam said: 'Social cohesion is what we are all about, and getting people to know their peers and have a better quality of life. If we can do that by growing fresh organic vegetables in a sustainable way, then that's great. It is in a dangerous part of the city and we want to make it special.'

The Tudor Hall Community Garden project has attracted �500 grants from John Lewis, Norwich City Council and Nedwell Ltd, while Norfolk's probation service has helped clear the site.

City councillors Peter Offord and Lesley Grahame, representatives for Thorpe Hamlet ward, are also involved.

Mr Offord said: 'This group is an inspiration. With all these private property developments which are stalling, these guys are taking the initiative and involving the community.'

?Are you involved in a community project? Contact newsdesk@archant.co.uk.

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