THE OPENING celebration of the revamped Oakwood Pond has lifted Harlow’s community spirit.
The pond underwent £80,000 worth of construction around a month ago, and was funded through a Flood Alleviation Grant, Essex County Council, and Harlow Council. The overgrown pond caused issues with flooding in the surrounding residential areas, as well as creating a vulnerable atmosphere.
At the celebration, there were councillors, contractors and volunteers, as well as near-by residents, who all came along to welcome the official opening of the site.
Helen Gaize, who lives in Harlow, said ‘The pond was neglected and the water was toxic. Some days I wanted to come down and throw barley straw in. The best thing now is that the water will be spring fed again.’
Nurses from the nearby Princess Alexandra Hospital used the site as a cut through, but this project has now made it an open and safer space. It has also added a 30-metre-long bridge, four fishing swims, and an accessible path. The Stort Anglian Society will be teaching disabled people to fish.
Since starting his job in 2010, Leader of Council Jon Clempner has been hearing issues from locals about the flooding problems. He commented ‘The pond was overgrown and there were lots of places to hide.
‘Next year we plan to work on biodiversity. There will also be interpretation boards built to talk about the history and biodiversity of the pond. We will be working with local schools, using and learning from the area. Harlow is not as urban as everyone thinks, near enough everywhere there are green spaces.’
This project has reinforced Harlow’s motto ‘In Common Endeavour’, with the support and pride from the many involved: The Rainbow Society, Hugh Pearl and James Curry Tree Contractors and local residents.
Patrick Bailly a landscape and biodiversity officer at Harlow Council said: ‘To enable us to get funding for the project, we had to meet certain requirements. Ecologically the pond and the wildlife have to settle down, next year a survey will be done to determine what fish to stock in the pond.‘
Patrick has been very passionate about this project, however there is still progress to be made. He added: ‘More funds will be requested for hedgerows and planting. The site will also continued to be cared for by HTS and Stort Valley Angling Society, along with plans to set up a friends of Oakwood Pond group with locals.’