COUNCIL officials have done a U-turn on controversial plans to create wildflower meadows in sections of a popular Peebles park.

Members of Peebles Community Council met with a senior manager from Scottish Borders Council after hearing of plans to boost biodiversity in the Borders.

As previously reported, chairman of the community council Les Turnbull voiced his dismay at the proposals for Haylodge Park when they were unveiled last month.

Mr Turnbull told the Peeblesshire News this week: “SBC managers wanted to increase the level of biodiversity around the town by changing the management regime for open spaces.

"As a forerunner to developing wildflower meadows, council officials had planned to stop cutting grass in large areas of Haylodge Park, particularly along the river bank and on the slope used by generations of residents for sledging in the winter months.”

Community councillors toured these sites with the official and explained that the areas earmarked for change were 'dearly loved open spaces' which are in constant use through the summer months as picnic areas.

“Indeed they are the only area available for picnics adjacent to the river. After some detailed discussion it was agreed that these affected areas would continue to be mown regularly to maintain the appearance of the park”, said Mr Turnbull.

But the community council agreed that biodiversity could be increased in an area of Haylodge that would not detract from the amenity of open spaces.

Mr Turnbull explained: “A suggestion was made that a flat piece of parkland at the extreme western end of the park could be converted into a community orchard where fruit trees that thrive in our climate could be planted, this could include varieties of apple, pears and plums and such like.”

“It is reassuring to see that managers in SBC recognise the validity of the community’s concerns and have agreed not to make any changes, as proposed, in the way these areas are currently managed. The suggestion for a community orchard at the western end of the park is, in my view, a good one. Such an orchard would be on a piece of land that doesn't seem to be used very much and it would add a great deal of interest to the park as well as providing fruit for the community.”