A HORTICULTURAL centre at Leasowes Park in Halesowen has been saved from closure after bosses announced they have done a u-turn and taken the site off the market.

Stourbridge College put the Leasowes Park Centre, which teaches horticulture and conservation skills, up for sale last year blaming falling pupil numbers and a failed funding application to the Learning and Skills Council.

The news it was set to close in 2008 was met with dismay amid concerns over the future of the site which features a grade one listed walled garden and a vineyard.

But this week college bosses announced a reprieve saying they had decided to keep the centre for use by students with learning difficulties.

Elaine Giles, vice principal for corporate development at Stourbridge College, said: "At the moment we don't intend to sell it.

"It is not closing - we decided for the medium term to keep it open.

"It's not up for sale."

Elaine said the u-turn was partly due to the college "looking to expand the work we do with students with learning difficulties - Leasowes is a nice, safe place to do that."

Marianne Diller, chairman of the friends of Leasowes group, said: "It's brilliant news - absolutely super because their presence in the park makes such a difference - it's an ideal learning situation for the students they cater for.

"It's a very, very pretty walled garden one of the best kept secrets.

"They do such good work there - I'm absolutely delighted they are staying."

The centre, which has been in use for more than 14 years, also teaches catering to students at its Gardeners' Rest cafe. It has been used solely by students with learning difficulties since the start of this year and has 40 pupils but used to host adult learning courses. Stourbridge College has 378 students with learning difficulties across all its sites.

There will be an open day at the centre this Sunday (May 18). Visitors can get tips on gardening and conservation and there will be demonstrations on hanging baskets and flower arranging. Plants will be for sale at bargain prices. Refreshments will be available at the cafe. Staff will be on hand to give advice on courses available.