TELEVISION presenter Adam Henson has joined the battle to save part of a beautiful Chipping Campden orchard from being turned into a car park or doctor’s surgery.

The presenter of the BBC’s Countryfile television programme and co-owner of Guiting Power’s Cotswold Farm Park intervened while presenting a £3,000 cheque, from Gloucestershire Environmental Trust, to Chipping Campden School for pupils’ work at Wolds End Orchard.

This comes just weeks after Campden residents were angered by a bulldozer’s arrival at the Aston Road orchard, where they alleged the machine was building a car park entrance. In 2006, Cotswold District Council gave the Campden Society planning permission to build on one-third of the orchard.

The society, which bought the ancient orchard three years ago, said it had to start the work to prevent the planning permission expiring in August but had no intention to build the car park that was originally proposed to ease parking congestion in the town centre. Campden Society rents the ancient orchard, where some trees date back the 17th century, to the school for a peppercorn rent.

The school runs its rural studies course at the site where its pupils harvest fruit trees, while keeping Cotswold Long-wool sheep, Gloucester Old Spot pigs and chickens.

Pupils produce their own apple and pear juices, which are sold locally and served in the school canteen, with all profits helping fund the orchard’s upkeep.

Mr Henson, a pioneer of rare-breed conservation, supports the school’s conservation of the orchard.

Saying the proposed car park would be too far from the town centre to relieve the congestion, he urged the Campden Society not to support any plans to develop the land.

He said: “The orchard is a very valuable site. It’s an ancient part of Chipping Campden that the school and community are involved with. It would be a crying shame to put a car park on it.”

Society chairman Sally Lindner confirmed representatives of Campden’s doctor’s surgery had asked the organisation about the possibility of building a new surgery at the site as a replacement for their existing premises, which are too small.

“Only one third of the orchard has planning permission,” she said. “The rest of the orchard would remain as an orchard.”