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Popularity of Mousehold Heath proving problematic due to parking problems

PUBLISHED: 13:53 23 January 2018

Mousehold Heath feature. The view over the city from Britannia Road.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mousehold Heath feature. The view over the city from Britannia Road. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

It is a magnet for dog walkers, wildlife lovers and even fans of American cuisine.

Mousehold Heath feature.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMousehold Heath feature. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

It is a magnet for dog walkers, wildlife lovers and even fans of American cuisine.

But Norwich’s Mousehold Heath could be a victim of its own success after fears were raised over its over-flowing car park.

Since the success of the popular Britannia Cafe, the car park on Britannia Road has seen a substantial increase in pressure due to increased visitor numbers, and now charges for parking are being considered.

Mousehold Heath feature.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMousehold Heath feature. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

And an annual report from Mousehold Heath Conservators reported that a number of people parking on the verge of Britannia Road have caused access restrictions for the City Sightseeing Norwich tour bus and local residents.

David McMaster, manager of Awayadays, which manages City Sightseeing Norwich, said: “This has been going on for several years ever since the opening of Britannia Cafe. I have erected signs asking for no parking in certain areas especially where I turn around but it has not been entirely successful.

“I have been operating the Sightseeing bus now for 15 years with 10,000 visitors enjoying the tour with the highlight being the view of the city from Mousehold Heath.

Mousehold Heath feature. Bandstand.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMousehold Heath feature. Bandstand. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“The city council has this area on their coach map for visiting coaches to enjoy the view but few are going there because of the parking problems.

“Before Britannia Cafe opened it was rarely a problem. I would look forward to the situation being resolved.”

Conservators have put considerable resources into the issues relating to Britannia Road and the car park. Not only in terms of short term repairs to the heath car park but also in engaging in consultation process, according to the report.

Mousehold Heath feature. Zaks Restaurant.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMousehold Heath feature. Zaks Restaurant. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

David Bradford, councillor for Crome, said: “We are considering putting car park charges in place.”

Gill Webb, chair of the Mousehold Heath Defenders, said: “We are committed to ensuring that free access to Mousehold Heath continues on a 24 hour seven day a week basis.”

A number of fly-tipping incidents occurred across Mousehold Heath, on one occasion two bollards were removed to gain access from Gertude Road onto Gilman Road, resulting in a large amount of household rubbish being dumped on the wildflower area adjacent to the wildlife pond.

Mousehold Heath feature. The pitch and putt sign.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMousehold Heath feature. The pitch and putt sign. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Wardens and Norwich City Council environmental services and highways officers reinstalled the damaged bollards to ensure the future of the site was maintained and to removed the fly-tipped items.

Russel Sparks, 69, and Arlean McFayden, from Hellesdon, said: “This is only our second time coming to Mousehold Heath. We’ve come to try the cafe but can’t believe how busy it is to park here. It’s not even a peak time of the year yet, and people are having to park on the side of the road. It’s a beautiful place to visit, but we won’t be coming back here again because the parking is really off putting.”

Sally Aspen, 62, from Sprowston, said: “I think the heath is great, there’s lots of runners all year round and it’s an ideal place for dog walkers. New paths have recently been sorted which helps everyone. The cafe is great and is really popular, it’s nice to come somewhere that’s not directly in the city.

Mousehold Heath feature.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMousehold Heath feature. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“The car park is very sloshy when it rains, it really needs tarmac, also the car park needs expanding. I understand that’s a problem because they can’t go knocking into the heath, but it’s always busy and people are having to park on the side of the road blocking the bus stop. I think the bus stop needs to be more prominent. Pay and display may not be a bad idea, if it was only 80p to park.”

Patrick Jordan, local vicar, from Norwich, said: “I like coming here to walk my dog, the view of the city is just amazing and it really feels like you’re in the country, but you’re not too far from the city centre too.”

About Mousehold Heath

Mousehold Heath feature.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMousehold Heath feature. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

• Mousehold Heath is made up of 184 acres of woodland, heathland and recreational open space in the north of Norwich.

• The heath is a designated local nature reserve and has played an important part in the history of the city.

• In Tudor times, Mousehold Heath stretched as far as South Walsham and was 22 miles around.

Mousehold Heath feature. Zaks Restaurant.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMousehold Heath feature. Zaks Restaurant. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

• The surviving remnant of the heath was given to Norwich City Council by the Dean and Chapter, to look after on behalf of the citizens of Norwich.

• This was officially recorded in 1884 by Parliament in an agreement called the Mousehold Heath Confirmation Act, and a body called the Mousehold Heath Conservators was formed to govern the heath.

• Up until the early 1900s, Mousehold Heath was open countryside with few trees; a classic heathland landscape. As the way people lived changed, it resulted in a gradual loss of open heath to scrub and woodland.

Mousehold Heath feature. Bandstand.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMousehold Heath feature. Bandstand. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

• There’s plenty to do and see at Mousehold Heath including guided walks and volunteer days that are aimed at widening residents’ understanding and knowledge of its local history and nature conservation management.

• The Heath also has a full sized football pitch and activities such as footgolf for those interested in sports.

• The heath is very popular among local people and visitors including dog walkers. The Britannia Cafe is a cafe that is in the former Britannia Barracks and is a popular rest point.

Mousehold Heath feature.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMousehold Heath feature. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

• The heath also has a range of wildlife to spot, including birds, butterflies, lizards and many more.

• Mousehold Heath overlooks the city and is deemed to have one of the best views of the city, which makes it very popular all year round including around bonfire night and the Lord Mayor’s Show to watch the fireworks.

Mousehold Heath feature. Cafe Britannia.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMousehold Heath feature. Cafe Britannia. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mousehold Heath feature.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMousehold Heath feature. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mousehold Heath feature.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMousehold Heath feature. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mousehold Heath feature.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMousehold Heath feature. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

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