In October 2010 the Saffron Walden Initiative signed a contract with Anglian Land Drainage to carry out extensive refurbishment of Swan Meadow Pond in Saffron Walden. The work started in November and was completed in April 2011.
The pond was reshaped from a deep bowl with vertical sides to one with gently sloping sides, and an island was removed. The pond was then replanted and is now a much more welcoming home for wildlife as well as a more attractive place for people to visit.
The pond is fed from underground springs which keep the water fresh. The advantage of the new design is that when the water levels change it will remain an attractive area.
Before the digging phase of the works, the fish that live in the pond were carefully removed and given a temporary home elsewhere. During the digging phase most of the ducks moved downstream to another spot until the disruption ceased. The pond was drained, de-silted and excavated, the island removed and the soil re-distributed to form part of the new sloping sides. Clay was imported to create a more natural looking shape. Following this, topsoil was put down on the newly-shaped banks and local stone used to strengthen possible erosion areas. A wide range of native aquatic, marginal native and oxygenating plants have now been planted - protected from the ducks by temporary wire netting.
The pond is owned by Uttlesford District Council and they contributed £3,600 towards the project. As a non-profit community organisation, the Initiative was able to secure grants from both Viridor Credits Environmental and Biffaward totalling £31,600. The project had the support of the Bridge End Residents' Association. Ecological advice was given by Essex Biodiversity Project.