Call to protect 'magical marshes' up for sale for £500,000

Sweetbriar Marshes

Sweetbriar Marshes. - Credit: Lucy Galvin

A haven for nature in Norwich has been put up for sale for half a million pounds - and community campaigners are calling for whoever buys it to protect the urban wilderness.

Sweetbriar Marshes, land next to the River Wensum on either side of the A140 Sweet Briar Road ring road, is home to birds, insects, amphibians, and rare flowers across its 90 plus acres.

The freehold for the two lots are up for sale for £500,000, with Brown and Co, but community groups and nature champions are keen to help make sure the marshes are protected.

The eastern parcel is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and much of the area is a designated County Wildlife Site.

Lucy Galvin. Pic: Paul Harrison.

Lucy Galvin. Pic: Paul Harrison. - Credit: Paul Harrison

Lucy Galvin, chair of the Marlpit Community Centre, which is next to the site, said she was hoping the marshes could be sold in one lot, rather than separately - and to somebody who would manage it well.

She said: "The city of Norwich is incredibly lucky to have these magical marshes within its boundary.

"They have lain almost untouched for generations as they are too wet to intensively farm or build on and so are a treasure trove of nature, wildness and peace.

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"There is much scope to protect them, and manage access in a careful way which retains and enhances their special qualities.

"It is important that the two parts of the marshes are kept together, and managed for wildlife and to keep this incredible natural corridor and beautiful untouched landscape.”

And community groups are calling for anybody interested in helping to protect the marshes - and anyone with stories of the marshes - to get in touch.

Liam Calvert, chair of the Wensum Residents Association, said; “Together with the other community groups in the area, we are calling for stories of the marshes and anyone interested in helping to protect them to get in touch.

"We’d love to hear from you if you’d like to be part of protecting this wonderful haven for nature on our doorstep.”

The river Wensum wraps round more than half the flood plain site and Jonah Tosney, operations director of the Norfolk Rivers Trust, said: “The Wensum is one of the most important chalk rivers in the country with an amazing variety of wildlife including otters, kingfishers, brown trout and water voles.

"To keep it a natural floodplain and a naturally functioning river is really important. It is rare and precious to have such a wonderful river in an urban environment.”

The 26-mile Marriott’s Way, is just to the north of the marshes and Maddy Goodall, co-chair of the Friends of Train Wood and Marriott’s Way community group said: “These wild marshes are an incredible sight for the many users of the Marriott’s Way and Riverside Path, and a key part of what makes this area of Norwich so beautiful.

"They're also a remarkable part of the wider Wensum Nature Reserve, allowing many - including local schoolchildren - to see and learn about the area's distinctive flora and fauna.”

People who want to share their stories or get involved with the campaign to protect the marshes should email