An Ely mum who lives by a park closed to the public for three months has questioned why Anglia Water has chosen to carry out sewage works during the busy summer period.
Work began today to lay a new sewer pipe within the green space between Downham Road and West Fen Road.
As reported in Spotted in Ely last week, the work is expected to take 12 weeks, meaning that the park will be closed throughout the summer, including during the school holidays.
The green space, which also borders Teasel Drive, Columbine Road and Mallow Close, is popular with joggers, walkers, cyclists and dog owners.
Claire Harrison, who lives by the park, together with husband Richard and daughters Kessie, five, and Layla, three, says Anglia Water could not have picked a worse time to carry out the sewage work.
“I am disappointed about the timing of these works. I appreciate they have to be done and that whenever Anglia Water chose there would be issues, but this is definitely the worst time of year for us.
“We have two young children who will be on their summer holidays for six of the 12 weeks and we use this area for bike riding, picnics, blackberry picking and as a meeting point with friends.”
She and Richard, both keen runners, also use the area for exercising, and for walking their dog.
Anglia Water plan to lay down a new sewer pipe to take flows from a new development to an existing pumping station. In a letter sent to nearby residents, the company warned there may be some noise and dust as a result of the work.
Claire is worried that she and other park residents may have to stay indoors with the windows closed if the site became excessively smelly, noisy or dusty.
She has also expressed concerns about the lack of publicity surrounding the park closure.
“I’m not sure if it is appreciated how many people come here from across Ely to walk their dogs for example and the first they will know of the closures is when they arrive.”
Other Spotted in Ely followers have also expressed dismay about the closure of the popular green space.
An Anglia Water spokeswoman said: “This is a scheme to lay the new sewer for the new housing development, so we don’t get a say as to when this work takes place.”
The company was obliged to connect the new sewer for the developer before September 15, so this could not be done at a different time, she said.
“For the safety of staff and members of the public, access to the working area will be restricted although a section of the footpath… will still be available for residents during this work.
“We have planned the work carefully to minimise disruption to roads and residents, but a project of this scale will always cause some disturbance. The work will involve laying the new sewer in a trench. This is called ‘open cut’. This is a well-used technique and while we warn customers that there may be some noise and dust, there should not be anything extreme or excessive. Rather, we try and give customers as much information as possible so they can make decisions that best suit them individually.
“The nature of the work we do – digging large holes in the ground – is inevitably disruptive for someone, but it is essential. We are sorry to those who are impacted by this work but we have to work within the timelines available on such a big project as a new housing development.”
About a fortnight before the work started, Anglia Water sent out 425 letters to local residents, informing them about the project. The company had planned to put out a press release this week but last week’s Spotted in Ely piece “pipped us to the post”, the spokeswoman said.
“In hindsight we should have tried to send this sooner for wider awareness and we are sorry if that has meant some people living farther afield felt they did not had all the information.”