Frequently asked Questions
Who owns Dartmouth Community Orchard?
The Town Council bought the 3.3 acre area known as the Orchard from the MoD for £15,000 on 23 December 1993. It owns and manages the Orchard, “for Wildlife Conservation and quiet recreation”, on behalf of the local community.
So, it can't be sold or developed?
It could be but the Town Council cannot keep all the money. The “Title”, which is logged at the Land Registry, shows that the Town Council would have to repay the MoD one third of the difference in value of any part of the land that was granted planning consent after 22nd December 2013 but before 23rd December 2073.
Who pays for its upkeep?
The Town Council pays for the management of the Orchard from its budget, which comes mainly through Council Tax payments by local people. Over the years, it has received grants towards improvements from sources such as the Landscape Heritage Scheme.
Some of the cost to the Town Council is for regular maintenance e.g. mowing, pruning, new tree planting, etc. and some for other work, e.g. repair of walls, creation of paths.
Since their founding in 2014, the Friends of the Orchard have obtained grants, used money raised at events and donations to improve the paths, build a shelter, and put up notice boards and information panels.
Who can use it?
It is a public open space and anyone can use it. The purchase contract was agreed on the basis that the permitted use would be “as an Orchard designated as open space”.
Is the Orchard in the Dartmouth Conservation Area?
The area immediately accessed from the Ridge Hill entrance is within the conservation area: the rest is not. The area that is in the Conservation area contains some magnificent old oaks, huge ash trees, and massive Sweet Chestnuts that are around 200 years old or older.
Additional planning controls apply to Conservation Areas, and Conservation Area Consent is required for “Tree works - cutting, uprooting, lopping or topping of trees”.
How is it managed for Wildlife Conservation?
Old, undisturbed orchards like this one are havens for wildlife of all kinds. The variety of habitats including trees, hedges, meadows, and scrub means it provides homes and food for a wonderful array of species. The orchard management plan sets out in detail how this will be maintained, through twice yearly mowing, a rolling programme of pruning, scrub containment, and control of invasive plants.
What about dogs?
Previously, grazing animals were used to manage the vegetation and dogs were excluded from the orchard. However, dog walking is now permitted and there is a dog waste bin at the Ridge Hill entrance to the orchard. Owners are urged to act responsibly – clean up any mess after their dog and ensure that it is well-behaved towards other orchard users who may not appreciate unwanted attention!
Won't more users mean more litter?
That depends upon the users. Anyone using the orchard should take their litter away and dispose of it responsibly, and be mindful that litter of any kind presents a hazard to wildlife, people and dogs.
Why a Friends’ group?
As a public space, the orchard is open to many pressures. The Friends can help keep it in good heart by working with the Town Council, securing resources that may not otherwise be available, and organising community events like Apple Days. In these ways, the Friends can have a long-term beneficial effect on the orchard – the fruit trees, the community’s amenity, and the biodiversity.