Stoke Park will be revitalised after councillors agreed to invest in a masterplan to improve and protect the most vibrant and historic green space in Guildford, at a meeting of the Executive on Tuesday 24 September.

The masterplan will ensure the award-winning park continues to balance the health, wellbeing and recreational needs of residents, while maintaining its unique character and use as a multi-use community facility.  Councillors approved the proposed design brief and committed £380,000 to the project.

Stoke Park is rich in heritage evolving from a royal deer park into countryside estate thanks to William Aldersey, from the East India Company. The now 52 hectare park was bought by the former Guildford Corporation in 1925. Surrey Gardens Trust has included the park in a list of Historic Parks and Gardens and with over a quarter of million visitors to the gardens alone, over 800 sports bookings and 90 events and activities each year, it plays a very significant role to the community .

Lead Councillor for Arts, Parks and Countryside, Cllr Pauline Searle said: ‘This year Stoke Park received another Green Flag – it’s 13th to date – for high quality maintenance and community use.  Guildford received the most Green Flags in Surrey and the South East which demonstrates our commitment and our residents enthusiasm for our amazing parks and countryside which cover 2.5% of the borough.’

She continued: ‘Moving forward delivering a dedicated strategy for this magnificent park is exciting and will benefit our residents for  years to come. When asked during consultation 94% of residents confirmed Stoke Park ‘makes Guildford a better place to live and work’ and they would like to see improved play facilities, an improved catering offer, better parking, a formal network communicating about the park and upgraded year-round facilities. We will be exploring  the priorities identified in the consultation.’

One resident described the park providing the oxygen for the town: ‘There is a really nice atmosphere where dog walkers can come, people without gardens and people who want to play sports. If you haven’t got much money, you go to Stoke Park and use the facilities. It is a resource for people of all backgrounds to enjoy.’

Cllr Searle added: ‘We know getting outdoors and being active is vital for children and adults’ physical and emotional health and wellbeing and this is one of the Council’s key priorities. Environmental sustainability is also at the top of our agenda and we declared a Climate Change emergency in July. Our Parks Team already works in a very sustainable way for example using recycled water, preserving our wildlife and ecosystems and reducing the use of harmful pesticides. Our tree planted green spaces contribute towards ‘urban forests’ that help mitigate carbon emissions, provide cool shaded areas and bodies of water in parks can also help to cool the air in our town. The new masterplan will ensure we continue to expand on this and we will consult with our residents further as ideas are developed.’

The park was nominated for Field Farm Trust’s UK Best Park award this summer and is the largest in the borough. It currently offers:

• 1 public lawn bowls green
• 2 cricket pitches
• 4 tennis courts
• 4 11-a-side adult football pitches (plus 2 9v9 junior pitches)
• 3 rugby pitches and 1/2 training areas
• 6 rounders’ pitches
• 3 lacrosse pitches
• 1 grass athletics track
• Visitor Point
• Ice cream kiosk and refreshment kiosk/cafe
• Play area
• Changing rooms
• Toilets
• Indoor bowls
• Large paddling pool
• Model boating pond
• Skate park
• Wildwood Aerial Adventure
• Mini golf course
• Japanese garden • sensory garden
• Rose garden
• Several small woodlands
• Four car parks
• Guildford Lido
• Spectrum Leisure Complex
• Burchatts Farm Barn
• Greenark community hall
• Table tennis