And finally... new haven for pondlife nears completion

6/6/12_DK'Baffins pond with the remodelled foreshore near completion.''Picture: Steve Reid (121966-782)
6/6/12_DK'Baffins pond with the remodelled foreshore near completion.''Picture: Steve Reid (121966-782)
Westfield Road. Picture: Google Maps

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A CONTROVERSIAL scheme to breathe new life into a much-loved beauty spot is finally nearing completion.

The £35,000 project to create two new wildlife-friendly wetland areas at Baffins Pond, Portsmouth, will be finished by the end of next week.

As reported in The News the work, which began in February and should have been completed in April, outraged some Baffins residents.

They complained that parts of the naturally-fed pond had been turned into a quagmire with diggers and other machinery turning the area into an eyesore.

Others were angered by the size of the two new wetland areas at the western end of the pond which, combined with existing tracts on the other side, had reduced the pond’s size by a quarter.

The scheme is a joint initiative between Portsmouth City Council and the Environment Agency.

They blamed April’s appalling weather and problems with the supply of timber to enclose the wetland areas for the delays.

But Seamus Meyer, the council’s parks and recreation manager, confirmed work was almost complete.

‘It’s 99 per cent done. They’re just tidying up odds and ends and it will be finished by the end of next week,’ he said.

Frances Cooper, 34, of nearby Westover Road, who regularly walks her two toddlers around the pond so they can feed seed to the ducks and swans, said: ‘And about time two. It really was in a state, but I’m beginning to see now that it might work once it gets established.’

And Nigel Crane, 54, of Tangier Road, agreed. He said: ‘Yes, we’ve lost a significant percentage of the water, but the plants planted in the wetland areas give the pond a more natural feel.

‘I’m just pleased it’s looking a bit more like its old self again.’

The work has also seen new gravel paths laid below the perimeter promenade to take visitors closer to the wildlife.

More than 9,500 wetland plants have been planted in the new areas and several trees have been cut down to prevent leaves clogging up the pond and affecting the quality of the water.

Four years ago two other wetland areas were created at the eastern end of the pond in the first phase of the redevelopment.