A COMMUNITY group is frustrated that a planned orchard has not found a permanent home.

The Earley Environmental Group had a community orchard set up near Paddock Drive which was promptly removed by Earley Town Council.

Despite repeated requests and working with the council to find a new site nothing has come of it for more than three months.

The orchard will be looked after by the Community Orchard group, who will plant apple, pear and plum trees amongst other, more exotic fruits.

The fruits will be community owned, and residents will be able to pick and take as they wish. There will even be a chance for schools and other education services to visit the orchard and learn about the growing process.

The council had provided an orchard space in the open land space near Paddock Drive earlier this year, but Jean Hacket, spokesman for the Earley Environmental Group said it was short-lived.

She said: “They [Earley Town Council] ignored our planting plans, drew up their own ideas and took over the site, after saying we could use it as a space for a community orchard.”

The 70-year-old resident of Earley added that the community group had to agree to the council’s clauses before the land was initially approved.

She said: “We had to say we wouldn’t put up a fence and wouldn’t say it’s our own land — and then they came and decided they were going to take charge”.

Mrs Hackett highlighted that the group have been waiting several months for a final decision on a new site.

She said: “It’s gone on and on now and we are not getting a decision, that’s what is making me frustrated.”

The area of land consists of a large recreational area of grass and trees, and is popular with walkers. It has now been planted with a variety of trees and shrubs. The site is maintained by the staff at Earley Town council.

Town clerk Philip Truppin said Earley Town Council is having difficulty establishing a new site due to Wokingham Borough Council undertaking a community asset review. He said: “It’s a comprehensive review, the borough are not going to give answers quickly”.

The council heard during its meeting on Wednesday, April 15 that the Paddock Drive site is deteriorating.

Cllr Guy Grandison admitted that he had personally watered the shrubbery “with my own watering can” and is becoming concerned that if the site isn’t properly maintained it could dry out.