A PUBLIC meeting has been called in a bid to save a botanic garden at the centre of a closure threat row.
Newcastle University has decided not to renew its lease with the Freemen of the city for the 90-year-old Moorbank botanic garden off Claremont Road.
Now the Friends of Moorbank and volunteers will hold the open meeting at the garden at 2.30pm on Sunday.
They have set up the Growing Moorbank group and have written to the Freemen outlining their hopes of rescuing the garden.
“The garden has extensive planted grounds, along with exotic collections under glass. All these are in danger of being lost, unless the people of Newcastle save them,” said a group spokesman.
It is hoped that a trust can be set up to run the garden on community lines, with the site being open to the public on a regular basis.
But first the group needs to secure the initial agreement of the Freemen as site landlords. It has written to the senior stewards of the incorporated companies of the Freemen.
“We have set out our hopes and aims and how this will be of benefit to the people of Newcastle but we need the interim agreement of the Freemen so that we can see where we might go,” said the spokesman.
“If they are happy that we can become a financially-solvent organisation then hopefully we can sign a new lease agreement.”
If the initial backing is given it would allow the group to begin fund raising and seeking sponsorship to gather the finance to meet the running costs of the garden, appoint a garden-based manager and create a new entrance and car park.
The garden has the largest non-commercial area of heated glass and the biggest collection of tender plants between Birmingham and Edinburgh.
It also has a lecture room, laboratory, kitchen, offices, propagation facilities and four acres of grounds.
“If, because of the university’s withdrawal the garden is flattened it would be a terrible act of vandalism,” said the spokesman.
The garden is next to the Dog and Cat shelter on Claremont Road and will be sign-posted on Sunday for the meeting.