THE future of Wiveliscombe community co-operative Brendon Orchards has been secured by a Government grant.

The group have been awarded £70,000 as part of the Government's 'Levelling Up fund' which has helped boost a number of local projects, including a £20 million cash injection to help regenerate Wellington's historic ToneWorks.

Brendon Orchards had been facing the threat of closure, as rising prices meant they struggled to maintain rent payments on their Golden Hill 'Greenhouse' premises.

Plans were afoot for a housing developer to take over the site, which also facilitates office spaces for a number of small businesses.

But the cash boost now means the co-operative's future is secured, according to the group's treasurer, Terry Evans.

He said: "We will now be able to buy the premises, including the office space used by our neighbours, which will provide a new revenue stream.

"This will mean we can maintain the building into the future and ensure the local small businesses occupying it can continue to do as at a reasonable rent.

"It also means a sustainable future for Brendon Orchards which was struggling with energy costs.

"This grant secures our future, which would have been impossible without the grant.

"There had been a plan for housing developers to move in, which would have kicked us out.

"But that is dead in the water now."

Brendon Orchards now hopes to expand their activities, to put on more community-based events.

They are planning to map out all of the local apple orchards, so they can be paired with juicers to minimise any waste among their crops - which is central to the co-operative's mission.