Community Pride Funding

In February 2013 we submitted our funding application to Cheltenham Borough Council. We heard we were successful 2 weeks later. We applied for £4600 to match the funding we had already raised and were granted £4500. The following are excerpts from the application and serve to give a picture of the plan envisaged.

Please give a brief description of your project (maximum of 100 words) The project will take a neglected piece of land adjacent to the urban Nature Reserve and create a Community Orchard with improved access routes to both it and the nature reserve. (see photos)

To do this the land will be cleared, old fruit trees in the hedgerow rejuvenated, new trees planted, an entrance incorporating the name of the orchard made, and existing poor-quality footpaths to the site resurfaced and signed from the nearby roads.

By appropriate management, the site will be converted to grassland and wild flowers introduced. Seating, information boards, bird boxes etc will be installed.

How do you know that there is a need for the project? The 120+ subscription members of Friends of Pilley Bridge Nature Reserve have been canvassed, as have the wildlife groups with whom we work in conjunction, and the feedback was that all were in favour of the project.The elderly members in particular have stated that they want the orchard as a place to sit outside and meet their friends.Young families in the neighbourhood say that it will help their children learn where food comes from and give families a chance to work together in the orchard.Local residents complain regularly about the often impassable condition of the footpaths that run from Leckhampton Road,Old Bath Road and Mead Road. These paths as well as giving access to the proposed Community Orchard and Pilley Bridge Nature Reserve also provide short cuts, which avoid busy roads, for children to walk to school, and adults working on the industrial and trading estates, but are usually unusable during winter or in any rainy weather.The Bee Guardian Foundation and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust have expressed enthusiasm and consider that the diversification of habitat will help the wildlife in the reserve.Local gardeners are pleased that the fruit trees will attract pollinating insects, which are in serious decline.Local businesses have put the case that helping to fund the Friends of Pilley Bridge Nature Reserve and the new Community Orchard provides an opportunity for them to reach out into the local community.

Within approximately half a mile of the proposed site there is a population of 4,500 (ref: Gloucestershire County Council SOAs, – College Ward no’s 3 and 4, Leckhampton Ward 3). Also within a quarter of a mile of the site there are more than 75 industrial/trading units. (see photos)

What will the project aim to achieve? To provide a focus for outdoor activity in the local community for all age/social/racial groups thus creating a sense of pride and ownership of a Community Orchard and the adjoining, urban Nature Reserve. To increase the diversity for flora and fauna of the existing Nature Reserve thus improving the living landscape of the neighbourhood.
What permissions and/or licences do you need to achieve your project and what are your plans / timescale to secure these permissions? We do not need any formal permissions for our project. The land for the Community Orchard belongs toCBCwho are fully supportive of the project.
Who will benefit from the project?Elderly people who are unable to easily access the Nature Reserve (a deep railway cutting below the orchard) but who wish to be outside in a place they can meet their friends or just sit in a beautiful place alive with nature.

  • Young families who wish to work and play and celebrate together.
  • Local children learning about orchards and food production – (NauntonParkSchool, Leckhampton Woodcraft Folk, local play groups and pre-school groups).
  • Children who will be able to walk to school along the renovated footpaths in green spaces and avoid busy roads.
  • The community living close to the large industrial/trading complex along Mead Road/Churchill Road/Old Station Drive will have another usable green space to balance the harsh environment of concrete and industrial buildings in the neighbourhood.
  • The wildlife, especially insects, pollinators, birds and bats that will benefit from the added diversity of habitat.
  • The heritage of Gloucestershire Orchards and their unique, local apple varieties.
How will you know if the project has been a success? We will know if the project has been a success if the following outcomes are achieved:

  • Improvement in local habitat (living landscape) with higher levels of bio-diversity.
  • Improved well being in local residents, particularly amongst young families and the elderly, resulting in less isolation, stress and anxiety.
  • Increased use of the area.
What are the longer term plans for the project once the grant funding has come to an end?The orchard will grow and develop under the combined management ofCBC’s Community Rangers and Friends of Pilley Bridge Nature Reserve (Community Orchard committee).There will be regular work parties, by the Friends of PBNR Group on the first Saturday of every month, to maintain the trees and the land.A scientific study is planned between the Bee Guardian Foundation and our members to monitor the bee species and other pollinators using the site. Other specialised groups have also expressed interested in carrying out research on the site (bat conservation, moths, spiders).A regular calendar of activities and festivities (Apple Day, Wassailing etc) will be held.All these activities will be sustainable through membership of the Friends of PBNR group and sponsorship and support from local businesses. We also have plans to apply for further grants for Pilley Bridge Nature Reserve as a whole. 

Sue King, Feb 2013