TOWN VISITORS: Caroline and Ian Artingstoll examine the interpretation board at Barnard Castle's sensory garden
TOWN VISITORS: Caroline and Ian Artingstoll examine the interpretation board at Barnard Castle's sensory garden

PLANS to turn a rundown sensory garden into a wildflower meadow and orchard have been given the go-ahead.

English Heritage announced plans to reinvigorate the garden within the walls of Barnard Castle during a meeting of Barnard Castle Town Council in February.

Robin Copeland, of English Heritage, told the council that funding had been secured to redevelop the area into “something that is slightly more in keeping with the environment”.

The idea was to get volunteers involved in the project, Mr Copeland said.

In an application to county planners English Heritage added: “The existing sensory garden was mainly constructed from modern man-made materials which have not stood the test of time.

“It has now become dated and somewhat incongruous within its historic setting.

“The proposed orchard would be a more appropriate intervention on the site of a former allotment with remnant fruit trees. This orchard would better integrate into its setting, offer strong seasonal interest of spring flowers and autumn fruit and provide opportunities for community engagement and activities.”

The town council and Historic England supported the application, but honorary freeman and former town councillor John Watson opposed the project. He said: “The proposal to fell the healthy pear and yew trees, remove the boundaries of the garden and convert to a wildflower meadow is of serious concern.

“The proposal now put forward by English Heritage is highly unsatisfactory as it effectively obliterates the town garden.” He explained the garden was originally created by a resident called Miss Leishman and provided a popular pleasant place to relax

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He added: “The current proposal is not worthy of approval. A rethink is vital, involving English Heritage, Barnard Castle Town Council and interested residents. A project, uniting the history, heritage and the environment offers a major benefit.”

Planning officer Amy Williamson disagreed that the trees were in good condition, pointing to a tree survey which had found the trees to be in poor health. She said the loss would be compensated by the planting of new ones.

In giving consent for the project, he said: “The proposed orchard would relate more closely in terms of function and appearance to its former historic use.

“The proposed orchard trees have been carefully chosen using more traditional

varieties, which would correspond to the historic character of the site and not develop extensive roots that may damage the fabric of the heritage assets.

“The wildflower meadow planting would further enhance the appearance of the proposed orchard.”

Tourists visiting the castle last week commented that the garden was not particularly attractive in its current state.

Caroline Artingstoll, from Thirsk, said: “It looks a bit tired and unloved.

She welcomed the idea of it being turned into an orchard.