The main problems
Kett’s cave children’s park and open green space on Balfour street has been neglected for a number of years. The middle part where the kid’s play is kept clean by Norwich City Council. However the scrubland area around the perimeter of the park is in a run down and sorry state. We have found a large amount of IV drug needles and asbestos, so clearing the fly-tipping has been very slow progress. A crow that got tangled in a carrier bag and had clearly suffocated to death. The perimeter of the park has some really historic wire fences that have fallen into disrepair and are currently boxing in our city dwelling animals as well as trapping loads of litter. As a community we have pulled out sofas, mattresses, and barbed wire to name but a few. Whilst this has greatly improved the area and engagement has been really positive, issues still remain.
A local resident lost the top of this finger while playing catch with his grandchildren in the summer of 2020 as he stepped back and caught it on the broken fence. From chatting with locals the fences have been this way since the 70’s. Government cuts from above have meant that our city council simply does the bare minimum on this park now and have done for a very long time.
There has been anti-social behaviour observed in and around the park, which we realise, these days is nothing new but having no access from the slope side and the untidy nature of things has maybe exacerbated the problem.
As a community group we approached Matt Davies from the Fringe Project (an organisation within the Norwich City Council) to see if as a team we could enhance this park together and make it safe. The Fringe Project works directly with community grant-funded groups. So on the 19th April 2021 Liz, Gary and Shelley met Matt on site to discuss working together. Following this meeting Matt has agreed to work with us once we have all the policies and bank account in place. This is such a great connection to have in place. The city Council, although poorly funded, has been great at trying to help us find solutions to these problems.
Our Project aims
The highest priority is to remove the extremely dangerous broken wire fences.
Medium priority is to replace the broken steps at Sandy Park (AKA Gertrude Rd park) with recycled plastic steps and create new steps down the slope at Kett’s cave. There is already a heavy worn path down the slope at the Kett’s cave park, which the general public already use. It would be great to have this a safe path down the slope to Kett’s cave from Mousehold Avenue. Opening on an official path down the slope will also benefit the muntjac, foxes and hedgehogs from opposite at Sandy Park. When we visited the parks in the winter we tracked animal footprints from Sandy Park and it would be great to create a green corridor for our city dwelling animals.
- Opening up the existing path that has become overgrown from Mousehold Avenue near to the hub to the foot path leading into the Kett’s cave park. Shown on the sketch.
- Planting a wildflower meadow
- Planting fruit trees and/or native trees along borders.
- Remove some select areas of bramble to create sight lines from Pockthorpe Garden to help reduce anti-social behaviour.
When are we going to start?
No work will start until we are an official group with policies and a bank account. Also we want to wait until after nesting season and nettles have died down. We envisage all going well to start this late autumn. Some of us will need to undertake some basic training in using machinery and first aid. This will be provided by Matt Davies at the Fringe Project.
We need at least 10 people to volunteer to get this project off the ground. Please email us if you are interested and we can make sure you are invited to the training days.
Our long-term vision is to have a park that is not only safe, but has also enhanced surrounding green spaces for improving biodiversity in our urban city park. A place where nature can thrive and be enjoyed by everyone. It has been shown that shrub and bramble habitat is vital for insects and birds and areas around Ketts are particularly pristine in places. We seek to protect this habitat with general improvements to the park and complement other green areas.
We would like to have simple long lasting improvements that can be maintained which will help reduce ongoing anti-social behaviour in the manner that has been successful in other parks and places.
Matt Davies (Fringe Project) will help the group put together our own management plan, so that the community group can keep the shrubland areas safe for all.
This project doesn’t need to stop here. Having looked at community places like the Old Library Woods near the train station it would be amazing to have sculptures, more benches and book swaps. This will all heavily depend on the general public’s engagement. Think big and get involved!