Anger at 'unfair' plans for library expansion to swallow community garden

The sensory garden at Sprowston Library which SYEP youngsters helped to build 

The sensory garden at Sprowston Library which SYEP youngsters helped to build - Credit: SYEP

Frustration has been expressed over county council plans to build over a community garden which various groups helped to build. 

Norfolk County Council has drawn up plans to build an extension to Sprowston Library in Recreation Ground Road which would result in the loss of the sensory garden finished just before the pandemic.

The town council has said it is strongly opposed to the application due to the loss of the garden.

But the county council has vowed to find an alternative location for the garden, with library staff planning to meet with the gardeners in due course. 

Volunteers from the SYEP working on the sensory garden at Sprowston Library which is under threat 

Volunteers from the SYEP working on the sensory garden at Sprowston Library which is under threat - Credit: SYEP

However, it has left those who helped to contribute to the existing garden feeling their efforts over two years are in vain. 


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Youngsters from the Sprowston Youth Engagement Project (SYEP) worked with groups such as the dementia café, Scouts, Royal Horticultural Society and other volunteers to complete the garden.

Clare Lincoln, SYEP project leader, said: "A lot of time and effort was put into making it a nice place for the community to enjoy. Everyone came together and worked really hard.

Clare Lincoln, project lead for SYEP (Sprowston Youth Engagement Project) 

Clare Lincoln, project lead for SYEP (Sprowston Youth Engagement Project) - Credit: SYEP

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"The only thing that stopped it from being opened was Covid so it is unfair on the groups involved in putting it together for it not to be used." 

SYEP were among the community groups who helped make the sensory garden a reality 

SYEP were among the community groups who helped make the sensory garden a reality - Credit: SYEP

The county council has sought planning permission for an extension to the side elevation between the two existing parts of the library.

As part of the plans, the authority is proposing the existing toilet be made accessible to the public, as well as creating a small staff toilet accessible via a new door opening into an office area. 

The existing sensory garden at Sprowston Library 

The existing sensory garden at Sprowston Library - Credit: SYEP

Town councillor Bill Couzens was among those who contributed to the garden and said he would be holding talks to establish the reasons for it being built over.

"It is a question of which is a more valuable resource," Mr Couzens said. 

"A lot of community work went into that garden and it would have offered a space to sit and read quietly." 

Town clerk Guy Ranaweera added: "The sensory garden was created with a lot of help from volunteers and is an important community amenity for many local people." 

The town council has no objections to the internal alterations.

What the county council has said

Contributions from housing development has made funding available for the library to be extended and enhanced. 

The county council has said the extension will provide more space for books, study and the library's popular family activities.

With the extension seeing the loss of the existing garden, the council has said it is committed to finding an alternative location.

The sensory garden was completed just before the pandemic 

The sensory garden was completed just before the pandemic - Credit: SYEP

This could be on a grassed area outside the library, with the existing large wooden tubs able to be relocated.

Jill Terrell, head of libraries and information service at Norfolk County Council, said:  “We would love to work with the community gardeners on how we might relocate or create a new garden at the library.  

"Our aim is to see a new and improved library that has an equally fantastic outdoor space, and the community garden is very much part of that plan.”

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