New lake could be dug in west Norfolk tourism hotspot

The holiday cabins, lake and nature reserve would be developed on land south of the Oakland Gardens, just off the A47

The holiday cabins, lake and nature reserve would be developed on land south of the Oakland Gardens, just off the A47, in the centre of the image. An existing lake can be seen on the other side of the A47, to the north-east. - Credit: Google

A new wildlife lake, eight holiday cabins and 20 new jobs could all be created at a Norfolk garden suppliers, if plans are approved by the local council. 

Family-run Oakland Gardens in Pentney have applied for permission to West Norfolk Borough Council to build the cabins, lake and nature reserve., along with new warehousing, business units and a home for the family to live in. 

In a rationale submitted to the council, the family said their proposals would offer “an additional asset to the already well-established tourist industry in the area”.

The lake would be dug in a location that floods every year, with water level sluice controls used to relieve flooding and drought patterns, and would directly connect to a relief ditch which leads out of the village and onto the Wash.

"We want to improve the area ecologically - we're so blessed to work in a place like this," said Lee Ward, who runs the business with his father, Kerry, and other family members.

He added that the lake and cabins had been "a dream for a long time". 

Each of the cabins would have two bedrooms, and one of the cabins would be reserved exclusively for the use of charities, families in financial difficulties and those with disabled members.

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Mr Ward said: “Fifteen years ago, we were unemployed and our son, aged five, had cancer and was in hospital for a long time.

“He had chemotherapy and we were very poor and understand how those strains of an illness, or disability, in the family can strain a family."

Following the successful treatment, Macmillan Cancer Support sent Lee, his partner Emma, and son Kyle on a holiday to Scotland.

Mr Ward said the trip allowed the family to have "a moment out of reality".

“We will never forget this family lifeline, which is why we want to give back to the community within this project by using one cabin solely for free of charge for charity use.”

New warehousing would allow the existing garden business to grow, which the family say would create “20 additional jobs for local people in both professional and unskilled jobs”.

The Wards currently live in Whaplode, Lincolnshire, and say they could save 1.8 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year by moving to the site they’ve been running since 2007.

If approved, the plan would also see 10 business units and 20 offices built and would be available for internet-based firms that are either services based, or mail-order. 

The council is due to make a decision on whether to grant the plan permission in principle by April 20. 

Pentney... the tourism hotspot

Pentney - located off the A47 between Swaffham and King’s Lynn - is already popular with visitors, with a number of tourism businesses linked to the area's wetlands.

Tourists to Pentney's existing lakes can enjoy waterskiing and the hospitality of several holiday lodges, while the village’s two spa resorts attract people looking to unwind in rural Norfolk.

Pentney Woods

A holiday park with 38 eco lodges could be built at Pentney Woods, near King's Lynn - Credit: Chris Bishop

And under another plan awaiting approval from West Norfolk council, Pentney Woods could soon host 38 new eco lodges

Pentney Priory, now known as Pentney Abbey, was an Augustinian priory.

The Pentney Priory Gatehouse have recieved a grant from English Heritage for £200,000 to help save i

The Pentney Priory Gatehouse have recieved a grant from English Heritage for £200,000 to help save it from collasping. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Its ruins mostly comprise a flint-built grade-I listed gatehouse and can be booked for weddings. 

Nearby Narborough, just east of Pentney, offers trout and coarse fishing, as well as caravanning, at its own lakes.

Narborough Bone Mill on the river Nar, just south of Pentney, is the only surviving Norfolk bone mill of which substantial workings remain.

From left, Dennis Greeno, Eddie Hall, Graham Bartlett, Breckland councillor Peter Wilkinson, David B

From left, Dennis Greeno, Eddie Hall, Graham Bartlett, Breckland councillor Peter Wilkinson, David Burchell and John Atkinson at Narborough Bone Mill. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The mill was used to render down bones from local slaughterhouses and from the whaling industry into agricultural fertiliser, with bones transported up the River Nar by barge from a blubber-processing factory at South Lynn.

Narborough Bone Mill when it was in use.

Narborough Bone Mill when it was in use. - Credit: Archant

The mill’s 16-foot diameter (4.9m) waterwheel and the foundations of the main mill building can be viewed today by walkers on the Nar Valley Way.