Popular Saffron Walden pond given makeover

SAFFRON Walden’s popular pond has been given a new lease of life after a successful �35,000 revamp project.

Now a small group of volunteers is being recruited to help keep the facility in great condition all year round.

The duck pond at Swan Meadow car park has been extensively remodelled over the winter months and now offers a more welcoming home for wildlife as well a more attractive place for people to visit.

The project was a partnership between the Saffron Walden Initiative and Uttlesford District Council. As a non-profit community organisation, the initiative was able to secure grants from Viridor Credits Environmental and Biffaward totalling �31,600. Uttlesford District Council contributed �3,600 and will manage and maintain the pond now the work is complete.

The project was coordinated by the district council’s Saffron Walden Town Centre Working Group, which was wound up last year after its list of projects, which included the refurbishment of the Market Square, was completed.

District councillor Alastair Walters, who chaired the working group, said: “Everyone involved with this project is delighted at the way it has turned out and it is an excellent example of partnership working for the good of the community.

“The challenge now is to maintain the refurbished pond in excellent condition and, as well as the general management and maintenance Uttlesford District Council will provide, we are recruiting a Friends of Swan Meadow Pond group to monitor the continuing development of the pond and perhaps undertake small maintenance such as clearing away litter as well as reporting any issues to the council.”

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Saffron Walden Initiative chairman Peter Riding said: “There have been several people and organisations vital to the success of this project.

“Mark Iley at the Essex Biodiversity Project provided invaluable advice and on-going support and former Saffron Walden Partnership Board project officer Bruce Tice was instrumental in obtaining the two grants.

“The contractors Anglian Land Drainage did an excellent job coping with the long period of freezing weather before Christmas.

“Also, once they had removed the silt on the bottom of the pond they found many more natural springs than anyone had anticipated - and so they had to bring in much more powerful pumps.

“There are now ducklings on the pond which have survived to a reasonable age and I hope everyone in Saffron Walden will enjoy this improved amenity for many years to come.”

The work has seen the pond redesigned from a deep bowl with vertical sides to a gently sloping and shallower shape. The advantage of the new design is that when the springs stop flowing in the summer months and the water levels change it will remain an attractive area.

The sloping design also means that the ducks who live there are able to get in and out of the pond more easily.

A wide range of native aquatic, marginal native and oxygenating plants have been planted and temporary bird netting added to protect the newly planted vegetation.