The Fight to Save the Orchards
Residents lined up in a battle to save our historic Orchards when attempts were made late in the first decade of the 21st Century to build upon the West Orchard.
The application by P J Livesey was to build on one of the legs of the L-shaped West Orchard that stretches from the western end of Fairfield Hall, and then along the disused road that leads up to Hardy Way.
This area is believed to be the oldest part of both the Orchards and some of the trees are believed to be as much as 150 years old. As well as a petition there were banners and protests galore while environmentalists adopted a more scientific approach.
This was in three parts, involving a well known Hertfordshire Orchard Expert and then making an application to the Bedfordshire Wildlife Trust for “A County Wildlife Status” for both East and West Orchards.
This latter step proved successful and added much needed clout to the fight to oppose the plans for 18 houses. While A County Wildlife Status has no legal grounds few councils will allow development once a site is so designated.
So, the ruination of the Orchards was avoided.
Ten years later the parish council was involved in a similar fight when P J Livesey made an application to build three bungalows on the western end of the West Orchard (between the end of Hardy Way and Eliot Way. This the Council not only won but were then offered the land for a peppercorn by the company who added in the remainder of the L shape that front Hardy Way.
The Orchard expert consulted for the first application was Mr Michael Clarke who was then Vice Chair of Hertfordshire Orchard Initiative, and Past Chair of Friends of Brogdale Trust, the National Fruit Collection, Kent.
He made two visits, his detailed and interesting report can be read by clicking on this link.