Amid the thick ivy and deep undergrowth there is no hint of the formal gardens that once spread out around Koolunga House.
As well as colourful butterflies you are just as likely to spot an old push bike or pile of brick rubble at the site in High Road, Gorleston.
For new owner Paul Carter it presents the kind of challenge he embraces, chiming with his love of the outdoors.
The 45-year-old former soldier is sharing his vision after a bid to carry out tree works sparked anger and suspicion about his intentions with one person tagging the proposal as “despicable ecocide.”
He is assuring residents they have “nothing to fear” from his ownership saying he loves the garden too, and only wants to make it usable.
And while in the long term he couldn’t rule out asking planners for a dwelling for himself he was content to keep it as a garden to pass on to his children.
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He said healthy trees were being choked by ivy and that many on the site were self-seeded.
His plan was to return it to private garden use which would include planting an orchard, new trees and possibly building a summer house.
“I just want to make it a safe space for us to enjoy,” he said.
“Where else can you get anything like this? I just want to be genuine and transparent.”
The former soldier said he did not want make enemies over his plans and was shocked by the backlash.
He said he understood it was a “sensitive” site and that there was a lot of affection for the space but that careful work was needed to manage it.
There were also safety concerns to do with pressure on the bulging wall and passing buses.
Work to four of the trees has been approved, two of which were completely dead and will be left as standing poles.
A new application has been asked for a Holme oak and an elm.
The borough council’s tree officer Graeme Watson said in his report the site was of high value “as a green resource” and needed to be managed as such.
To view the documents visit the borough council’s planning portal via its website.