“Walpole orchard” is a foreseeable disaster. The developer of the Walpole Meadows estate has “prepared” the ground of a north-facing slope to plant an orchard with no management plan, no access to water, in heavy clay soil, and at the height of one of the driest summers. The outcome will be a lot of dead fruit trees that residents will be paying to put right.

There are some very basic rules when it comes to planting fruit trees, none of which are being observed:

  • Plant the tree in its dormant phase but not during frost
  • Plant in loamy soil
  • Place it in a sunny and sheltered position.
  • Ensure the trees are regularly watered, but not water-logged, as they get established
Martin Grant Homes’ estate plan featuring the “orchard of death”

Stansted Parish Council has stated from the outset its desire for alternative tree species that are better able to cope with the conditions. I have appealed for non-fruiting trees that can better withstand the conditions or more drought-tolerant fruit trees such as crab apple and cherry. I have also called for a standpipe at the site so volunteers can water the trees.

However, the parish has been stonewalled as Martin Grant Homes presses ahead with a scheme that will lumber the parish with an expensive disaster. The district council says it has no option but to pursue the original S106 – which was drawn up with Bloor Homes with no consultation with the community.

Bloor Homes poor landscaping effort has left the village with 20 dead trees killed by neglect in a field of stones and brown grass

The developer insists that the ground preparation at the orchard site is adequate and that the natural drainage is towards the trees. So, let’s look at its credibility based on its tree planting record on the estate. Today, I counted 20 dead three-metre saplings – killed because they were not nurtured or planted properly by a construction company that believes plants can be thrown in a hole and forgotten about.

Once a profit is earned and a project signed off, the construction companies can wash their hands of the disasters they leave behind. Shoddy work means residents have to pay thousands to put it right. The result is growing distrust towards house builders and a collapse in public confidence in Uttlesford district council as the planning authority.