PLANS for a new wildflower area on Petersfield Heath have been agreed by the town council’s grounds committee.

The Friends of Petersfield Heath plan will see the grassy area to the west of the Sussex Road car park – where the car park path joins the Millennium Walk around the pond – become a wildflower meadow.

At its meeting last Thursday, the committee heard a presentation from Friends of the Heath chairman Richard Warton.

He said: “The South Downs National Park, among many other organisations, has identified the national crisis in dwindling insect populations and the wildflowers that support them.

“Without them, pollination and our own food chain is at risk of failing.”

Now with the agreement of the council, the volunteer group plans to mow the area this autumn and carry out a survey to find out what type of flowers would flourish there.

Mr Warton said: “This area is unlike the rest of the heathland – it is very wet in the winter, and already supports a modest flora different to that in the acid grassland and dry sandy soil on the more northern part of the Heath.

“Mowing the grass and removing the cut grass is important as it will help prevent nutrients being recycled into the soil. As wildflowers do better, the fewer nutrients there are.”

A soil survey would then be done, and flower species selected for planting either late next year, or early the following year.

The flowering meadow would also be a lovely welcome for visitors when they arrived at the car park, the main parking area for the beauty spot, added Mr Warton.

The council manages, and is responsible for, the Heath and works with the Friends of the Heath volunteers who carry out maintenance work and environmental projects on it.

The council’s grounds committee supported the proposal and gave it the go-ahead, as long as the volunteers worked with the council’s senior groundsman Doug Budd as an advisor.

The committee also heard that work on the Heath to stabilise the banks, create new islands and a new boardwalk was now virtually completed. All that remained to do was some planting, but members agreed a public consultation should go ahead in November to gain residents’ views.

Overall the public had been in favour of the complex project that cost about £600,000, members also heard.