Devizes group raises funds to save area for community

This Is Wiltshire: Stuart Hislop, of Drews Pond Wood Project, and Gary Mantle, from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, at the site of the cricket field and orchard Stuart Hislop, of Drews Pond Wood Project, and Gary Mantle, from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, at the site of the cricket field and orchard

A CONSERVATION group has finally achieved its goal of raising enough funds to buy a former cricket pitch and orchard and preserve them for public use.

Drews Pond Wood Project volunteers raised the money to buy the site in the grounds of the former Roundway Hospital.

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust has agreed to become owners of the land, which was put on the market by the developers of housing development Drews Park.

The guide price for the land is £20,000 and the group has now received enough pledges to put in a firm offer.

Although the sale of the land has not been finalised, Stuart Hislop, who founded the Drews Pond group with his wife, Lorna, 20 years ago, said that he is now confident the sale will go through.

He told the Gazette this week: “We have raised enough to buy the land and any surplus will be used to maintain the area. We are looking for completion of the sale in March.

“The trust and ourselves will be meeting to set out the parameters to form a community group to run what will be called the Roundway Community Orchard.

“We are delighted that we have secured this land for the benefit of the community of the Devizes area in perpetuity.

“This is a great piece of land for the people of Devizes to use and enjoy.”

WWT will send out letters to those who have made pledges of money for the purchase, asking them to send in their cash.

WWT director Dr Gary Mantle said: “The community group has been doing excellent work for many years to manage the woodland.

“The trust is looking forward to working with them and local residents to manage the site and increase its wildlife value and help improve access for local people.

“A steering group, including the community group, the trust, parish, town and Wiltshire councils, will soon be set up to determine the future management of the new land.”

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