A NEW community garden has been officially opened in Norton.

Volunteers have helped transform the site at Norton Hive, the town’s library and community hub, into an amenity area.

The library, which was threatened with closure following financial cuts by North Yorkshire County Council, is now run by a management team as a registered charity.

Mike Gwilliam, from the Norton Community Library Group, said: “When we took over the Norton Hive as a community library, we noted that the site included a large car park and a substantial area of unused land used for rough parking by local cars, vans and lorries. Its only positive feature were two fine Rowan trees.

“Norton is bereft of any green space in its centre and has very little public seating.We saw the scope to turn this space into something better, but we initially had to focus on getting the community library operational, so we put the concept on the back-burner.

“We saw it as stage three of the overall project. Stage one was the refurbishment of the library building and stage two was the conversion of the empty garage at the back of the building into commercial offices.

“Having successfully completed stages one and two by September 2017, we were able to start planning stage three.

“I drew up a plan to transform the site into a community garden, not just for library users, but also for the benefit of the whole community of Norton.

“I needed approximately £12,000, to complete the project, so I applied for grants and was able to secure funding from Ryedale District Council, and Norton Town Council.”

Mr Gwilliam said that even with the grants much of the work needed to be done by volunteers

“Using the volunteer contacts we had assembled for the library, I was able to recruit a volunteer team to carry out the work," he said.

"We began construction in April and have so far contributed over 400 hours of volunteer labour on the project.

"We have transformed the site and added a major new amenity for the people of Norton.”