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King’s Lynn’s Harding’s Pits could become village green with orchard in bid to protect it

It is a short walk from the centre of Norfolk’s biggest town.

But a patch of land in Lynn is in line to become the county’s newest village green, complete with its own orchard.

The scheme would help secure the future of Harding’s Pits Door Step Green, to the south of the town – an outdoor space located next to the banks of the River Great Ouse that was created in 2004.

Hardings Pits
Hardings Pits

That year, the council secured grant funding from the Countryside Agency, now Natural England, which provided funding to keep the land as a natural space for 25 years.

With the funding about to run out, it is hoped that by designating it a village green, the land will be protected from future developments encroaching on the public space.

It comes as a parcel of land to the north of the site has been earmarked for housing in the future, despite fears the homes would be built in a flood risk area.

A map of the village green and orchard proposal in South Lynn. Picture: BCKLWN
A map of the village green and orchard proposal in South Lynn. Picture: BCKLWN

In addition, funding for a community orchard of 34 mixed fruit trees has been applied for which would be planted to the east of Harding’s Pit – £23,000 of funding will come from the Urban Tree Challenge Fund while the remaining £6,000 will come from West Norfolk Council.

A further project for the area has been proposed, which would see seven oak trees grown as part of an art project.

If Harding’s Pits becomes a village green, the land would be protected in perpetuity, unless it is deregistered.

Village greens have a legal right to be used for lawful sports and pastimes, such as community events like fetes and picnics.

However, the land next to Harding’s Way, which has been allocated for housing in the King’s Lynn local plan, would be exempt from being included in the village green bid.

Alexandra Kemp, independent councillor for South Lynn, has backed the scheme amid concerns that housing developments could otherwise threaten this outdoor space.

“Building homes in Harding’s Way, an area at risk of flooding, is wrong. It seems complete madness,” she said.

“It is an important outdoor space and we need to keep it this way.”

The bid to create the village green comes after West Norfolk Council announced its corporate strategy, which includes protecting the environment and supporting local communities as a key priority.

It is due to be discussed at a cabinet meeting later this month.

The heart of Norfolk’s whaling industry

Harding’s Pits was once the centre of the county’s booming whaling industry.

From the 16th to the 19th century, the ships which would venture into the icy seas surrounding Greenland and elsewhere in the Atlantic Ocean in search of bowhead whales were built and supplied here.

At the height of the trade, the area was busy with merchants, shipwrights and fishermen.

Whale oil became a lucrative commodity during the Industrial Revolution and was used as a lubricant for machinery as well as lamp fuel for street lighting.

But overfishing eventually led to the collapse of the industry and it was abandoned in the 20th century.

The whale on Harding's Pits that was dismantled last year
The whale on Harding's Pits that was dismantled last year

A 20ft high wooden whale sculpture is the centrepiece of the Doorstep Green, created to commemorate this part of the town’s maritime history.

But after two decades, it is in need of replacement after becoming damaged by the elements and vandals.

Last year, a bid was launched to replace it with a metal sculpture.

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