ONCE the picture postcard pride of Midhurst, South Pond is today only a shadow of its former glory, but all that could be about to change with the arrival of a new group dedicated to restoring what was once the jewel in its crown.
A £30,000 dredging scheme had been carried out in 2002 but by 2009 the landmark feature of the town had sunk from its heyday to a muddied, silted-up stagnant stretch of water which had been at the centre of controversy over its condition for nearly two decades.
A £19,500 emergency scheme was carried because a sandbar appeared linking the pond’s south bank to the closest island, and there were health and safety fears.
But there was no date for major work on the pond, once featured on a calendar of European tourist attractions.
Town councillors of the day were angry and frustrated that time was being wasted on schemes and studies because the district council would not put their hands in their pockets and finance vital work.
It seemed the workmen arrived only when ‘health and safety’ reared its head and then only the barest minimum was done.
By August 2009 they had been waiting more than two years for the latest promised work to begin and the latest start date had already passed seven months earlier.
Their hopes had been crushed when CDC said it was rethinking its hi-tech GAD (geotextile assisted dewatering) dredging scheme because it had “presented problems in other parts of the country.”
Eventually in the Spring of 2010 a £37,000 programme of improvements went ahead including desilting and remedial works to improve safety along the south bank.
Out of those improvements a new group was born dedicated to looking after the pond.
SPACE - South Pond Active Community Endeavour - was founded by Midhurst Clare Fuller.
She got the backing of many organisations including Chichester District Council, Midhurst Town Council which had historically always kept an eye on the pond and the South Downs Joint Committee,
For a while volunteers turned out regularly but when Clare had to move on, the initiative died and today there is much needed to be done.
Full story see the Midhurst and Petworth Observer tomorrow, Thursday April 25