12:48 10 February 2022
Plans for 23 homes and a butterfly garden in a former children’s center have been given the green light.
The program will see the partial demolition and conversion of the historic Eaton Grange building on Upton Road.
The main building would be converted into seven apartments, while the coach house would become a single house and a mix of 15 houses and apartments would be added to the site.
A common garden, with flowering and fruiting species attractive to butterflies, will be at the heart of the project in tribute to the famous Victorian naturalist Margaret Fountaine who once lived on the site.
The demolition work would involve the removal of a large 1950s two-storey flat roof structure at the rear of the main house.
Speaking at a planning meeting Thursday morning, Eaton Ward Councilor Judith Lubbock backed the development.
She said: “There was a degree of vandalism to the building, there was fly dumping and graffiti. It was all dealt with by the developer, which I’m very grateful for.”
Ms Lubbock said the site was ideal for home development, was in a sustainable location with nearby bus services and respected the heritage of the house’s former occupants.
Eaton Grange was once the home of Margaret Fountaine, affectionately known as the ‘Butterfly Lady of Norwich’, who was an accomplished natural history illustrator, chronicler and adventurer.
Mrs Fountaine’s family moved to Eaton Grange in 1877, before she began traveling the world, which would lead to a collection of 22,000 butterfly specimens, now housed in Norwich Castle Museum.
The latest plans have been revised from that submitted by claimant LNA Eaton Ltd in 2021, with two fewer properties and a reduction in height.
Before the meeting, 22 objections had been submitted to the city council, 16 for the initial application and six for the revised plans.
Fears raised by neighbors include the number of properties being too high, the outdoor space too limited and the proposal not resembling surrounding properties.
An agent for LNA Eaton said it was a “challenging” site, but the project will “bring this vacant building back to life”.
The main building was recently used as a children’s center, which closed in 2017, having been identified as surplus NHS land following a review.
Councilors approved the plans unanimously.
Who was Marguerite Fountaine?
Born in 1862, she was the eldest of seven children of a Norfolk clergyman and grew up in Eaton Grange.
In 1878 she began keeping a diary which she continued until her death in 1940. During her life she traveled the world collecting butterflies in 60 countries on six continents.
She suffered a heart attack, at the age of 77, during a collection in Trinidad. She was reportedly found dead with a butterfly net in her hand and buried in an unmarked grave on the island.
She achieved greater fame after her death, and her extensive butterfly collection was not opened until 38 years after her death. In accordance with his wishes, it had been deposited in the Norwich Castle Museum the year of his death. She also planned that the collection would not be opened until 1978. A box and ten display cases containing over 22,000 specimens had been deposited.