Anglia Ruskin University brings Mill Pond back to life

Published: 22 May 2009 at 15:04

University-led group creates conditions suitable for a new ‘species rich habitat’

An 18-month project to restore the beauty and natural habitat of a mill pond dating back to Elizabethan times has been completed by Anglia Ruskin University.

Anglia Ruskin, commissioned engineering and environment consultancy Entec to design and manage the environmental remediation of the historic mill pond in December 2007. Specialist contractors Land and Water were then appointed to carry out the works on Rivermead campus and these are now complete.   

An official opening by Lord Hanningfield, the leader of Essex County Council who is recognised for his work on rural and conservation issues, took place on Friday 22 May. He visited the site to see the work that had been done and praised Anglia Ruskin University for its efforts. 

Speaking about the project, he said:

"The history of Chelmsford owes much to its position at the confluence of its two rivers and the mills that worked on them. The deterioration of the pond was so severe that we risked losing this valuable site. I am delighted that the work Anglia Ruskin University has carried out has retained the site for Chelmsford and the public at large. It is an excellent addition to the river side walk and to the Chelmer Valley Nature Reserve.”

Professor Michael Thorne, Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University, added:

“Through remediation works to what was a severely degraded pond Anglia Ruskin has raised the profile of an important historical site for Chelmsford.  In addition, as the pond matures it will become a valuable ecological and amenity asset. We hope that the public of Chelmsford will enjoy using this site as much as our students and staff.”

The site had over the last forty years deteriorated to such an extent that little open water remained. Extensive ecological surveys showed that the ecological value of the area was very low in this degraded state and urgent remediation works where required to re-instate the bank profiles and create conditions suitable for a species rich habitat.

Entec and Anglia Ruskin worked closely with the Environment Agency to develop a proposal to de-silt the pond, remediate the contaminated pond deposits, improve the pond’s ecological value and create a new landscape resource for the community. 

Pathways, planting and seating have been included on the bank side with decked lookout points.  Bank side re-profiling has accompanied the remodelling of the pond profiles to maximise habitat opportunities.

Great Crested Newts, White Clawed Crayfish, reptile, bat, fish and mammal surveys were conducted prior to works taking place and their populations will be monitored as the mill pond management project continues.

This complex project was managed by Entec’s landscape design team and involved contaminated land, ecology, hydrology and civil engineering specialists. 

For further information on the project visit or visit the site which is a part of the Chelmer Valley Nature Reserve.