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Sinkholes force closure of gardens

The Plantation Gardens near the city centre may remain closed until spring, after safety concerns forced the owner to close the site off to the public in January.

Tony Burlingham, who owns the local MJB Hotels Group, consequently owns all of the access routes to the popular Victorian gardens on Earlham Road. His decision to close the gardens results from sinkholes emerging at three of his nearby hotels, which stand on top of chalk mines.

Mr Burlingham has expressed his intentions to carry out a full underground assessment of the gardens, which are also thought to be situated above a chalk mine. He plans to reopen the site when it has been deemed safe and once rebuilding work has begun on Plantation House, which was damaged by subsidence last April.

The Plantation Garden Preservation Trust continues to meet with councillors to discuss the closure of the site. The Trust warned that the gardens may “deteriorate rapidly and could be damaged, because access can be obtained via illegal means.”

Meanwhile, an online petition to keep the Plantation Garden open reached 10,700 signatures in just a week.

Clive Lewis, the Labour MP for Norwich South, visited the Plantation Garden to speak to residents and has written to the Council and Mr Burlingham in support of the campaign to keep the site open despite the sinkholes.

In a statement, Lewis said: “Health and safety is of vital importance and should be taken into consideration, but all options must be thoroughly explored to make sure full and free access is maintained.”

31/01/2017

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