A major project to refurbish the historic Oakwood Pond and its surrounding area is now under way.
The £80,000 project is being funded by Harlow Council and Essex County Council via a community flood improvement grant.
The project aims to restore the much neglected historic pond and surrounding landscaped area which forms part of the former Upper House and grounds. Once completed the work will restore the original parkland, protect local homes from flooding particularly in Canons Brook and Fold Croft as well improve the environment for wildlife and local people.
Works began at the start of September 2017 and are expected to last around six weeks. The work is being undertaken by Harlow Council, contractors Hugh Pearl Ltd, James Curry Tree Contractors and local volunteers and includes:
- Removing trees and vegetation to re-instate part of the original pond for local flooding prevention.
- Re-introducing the water supply to the pond through the reconnection of spring water.
- Introducing new aquatic planting schemes.
- Creating a diverse array of habitats including water, vegetation and wooded areas to restore into parkland.
- Improving access for the local community to and through the site from Upper Park through to Harlow Town Centre and the Princess Alexandra Hospital.
- Building fishing platforms that are suitable for access for all.
- Creating disabled access points around the site and a new 360m path around the pond.
- Constructing a 20m boardwalk across a section of the pond.
Stort Valley Angling Society has been involved in the design of the project and along with the Council and volunteers will provide ongoing maintenance of the site following completion. The Society will use the site as a facility for young people and people with disabilities to learn fishing. Next year a survey of the fish stock will be carried once the pond has settled down and if necessary the pond will be restocked with fish.
Silt has been removed from the pond to increase the water water-holding capacity and further prevent flooding to the local area. The silt will be redistributed across the wooded area and all rubbish and litter will be removed.
Some of the footpaths in the surrounding area will need to be closed as the works progress; notices will be put up advising of this beforehand. There will inevitably be some disruption to local people accessing the site during the work.
The Council is looking at more projects to further improve the area and encourage community involvement.
This is an important project which will improve the biodiversity of this historic area and restore it to its former glory. It will become a place for residents to enjoy once again and provide educational opportunities for local people and a much-needed haven for local wildlife. It is also another great example of volunteers in Harlow working to improve the town for the benefit of the community.