Swan lake to ‘swamp’

DRAINED: The former newt pond in Bradley Lane, Eccleston

DRAINED: The former newt pond in Bradley Lane, Eccleston

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Residents in Eccleston are furious after a beautiful pond was turned into a ‘swamp’.

People living near Bradley Lane are worried that the owner of the land, developers Whittle Jones, are planning to build on the village playing fields.

David Walton, 66, of Bradley Lane, said the wildlife pond on the site was recently drained and left to become nothing more than a ‘swamp’.

He said: “The area has been somewhat neglected and the pond has become a dump over the years.

“It used be known as the Newt Pond, because of all the newts and other wildlife which lived there, such as ducks and fish.

“There was a bench and lots of greenery and brambles surrounding the pond, but now it’s all been fenced off and drained.

“It’s just a swamp now.”

Mr Walton is working with the parish council in a bid to save the land from potential development, and he presented documents from Chorley Borough Council’s website which show that school sports fields have been designated for housing and employment, and the wildlife area for housing.

The fields are also used by junior football teams.

Mr Walton said: “The future of this site seems to be in doubt. It’s currently used by Eccleston St Mary’s School and facilitates many popular sporting and leisure activities during school hours, school holidays, weekends and summer evenings, for both Eccleston’s residents and the surrounding communities.

“A change of use would severely restrict activities on this site.”

A spokesperson for Whittle Jones, which is part of the Northern Trust group, didn’t confirm or deny the rumours about building.

They said: “Lancashire County Council has been working on improving the hedges and ditches along Bradley Lane.

“As part of this process, Whittle Jones was notified by Lancashire County Council and residents that the pond on Bradley Lane was overgrown and flooded.

“As a result, the pond has now been unblocked and has reduced to its original level. Part of the tidying up process has included the erection of a new fence around the perimeter.”

In a document which Mr Walton presented to Ecccleston Parish Council, it states that two workmen were observed pumping water from the pond in June last year.

When asked if they were aware that pumping operations at the site had previously been stopped by the police on the grounds that it was a site of biological importance, they said that as they had now established that there were no newts in the pond, they were now able to go ahead with emptying it.

Mr Walton said: “This area is very important to me. I’ve lived in Eccleston for 40 years, and I can see the pond from my house. People used to visit it all the time, and I don’t know what we can to to save it.

“It’s a sad loss to the community.”