An orchard with rare apples, birds in need of protection, pollinators and other wildlife has been saved thanks to the determination of Badshot Lea residents.

The orchard of 76 trees is at Barley Meadows, also known as Waverley’s Folly, off St George’s Road, and was under threat from developers Elivia Homes who planned to build 10 houses there. This was despite a previous commitment to keep the orchard.

A petition to save the orchard was launched by Chris Jackman, councillor for Badshot Lea and Moor Park, and was signed by more than 1,000 people. A temporary tree preservation order was imposed and last week (May 14) Waverley Borough Council confirmed that this order had been made permanent.

Mr Jackman said: “I am delighted. It means that the orchard’s future as a green space is secure, thanks to the support of all the people who signed the petition and spoke out against the orchard’s destruction. That is people power!”

The trees are all apple varieties including rare ones. “It’s my understanding that there are Cox’s Pomona which is believed to have been raised in 1825 in Slough, and the Sheep's Nose which has various possible origins,” said MrJackman. “Fruit generally cultivated prior to 1900 is considered heritage.

“The orchard layout is traditional, and is very likely to have been part of a much larger orchard in years gone by.”

The trees’ blossom attract pollinators such as bees and hoverflies, bats eat the fruit, and the orchard is used by fieldfares and redwings, the latter a species of bird which overwinters in the UK, and is listed as ‘near threatened’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, meaning that its future cannot be guaranteed.

Elivia Homes has been approached for a comment.