A DELAY in a project to make Knox Pond more accessible and improve its habitat means more funding is needed to complete the work as originally planned.

The pond of Conde Way, fed by Deadwater river, is owned by Whitehill Town Council and managed on its behalf by the Deadwater Valley Trust.

The project was first put forward two years ago and will see the pond partially dredged and the spoil used to improve the habitat around the pond, some trees around it felled, and a new boardwalk built.

The plans were submitted to East Hampshire District in the hope work could start last autumn, but permission for the project was only received recently.

Trust head ranger Jamie Cummins said: “There was a delay in the permission being approved, but we have finally got it now.

“Of course, since the plans were submitted, what with inflation and everything, the work has gone up in price, so it will cost more and we are looking for more funding.

“And it can’t start now, of course, because it’s the spawning season for amphibians such frogs, toads and newts.

“It’s still going ahead, and it will start in this autumn – but it’s another delay that may see prices go up even more.

“It will take a few months to complete but hopefully, fingers crossed, it will be finished by this time next year.”

The town council is now intending to ask the district council why it took so long for the planning application to be approved, causing a delay of a year in the project starting.

Town council deputy clerk Raymond Ramsey said: “Whitehill Town Council is to contact East Hampshire District Council to ask why it took them so long to provide their comments to the planning application submitted for Knox Pond.

“This caused the issue of why the work at Knox Pond could not start – and now funding has become an issue.”

And the council says it can’t step in to mediate between the trust and its contractors.

At the council’s May executive committee meeting, members agreed if the deal was to be renegotiated, the trust should do it, as the council wasn’t part of the decision-making process when choosing to hire the supplier.

A spokesman said: “The council is not aware of the contractual agreement terms and conditions to cancel this agreement.”