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Revamp Of Stoke Park With Visitor Centre To Make It More Attractive For Events And Activities

Published on: 17 Mar, 2015
Updated on: 17 Mar, 2015

Plans are being draw up by Guildford Borough Council to make Stoke Park more attractive for events and activities.

Within the plans are a visitor centre and new catering facilities. The council will carry out a public consultation this summer, asking people their views of what they would like to see incorporated.

Peacock Wood in Stoke Park.

Peacock Wood in Stoke Park.

The council says it has ambitious plans to make Stoke Park “an open space that celebrates Guildford and meet the needs of the 21st century”.

The council says that further ideas being considered include celebrating the part that the town has played in driving forward economic growth, better facilities for children’s play, and restoration of the heritage features, which include the kitchen garden, cascades and Japanese garden. There could also be a focus on nature conservation, the town’s well-developed cultural links, its sporting heritage, or its significance as a place of worship.

The park is currently visited by 700,000 people each year. The open space was bought by the council in 1925, and it is interesting to reflect that at the time it had plans to build houses on about half of the total area – the part to the north bordering London Road.

Stoke Park is the site of an 18th-century estate, with grade II listed Victorian buildings and a kitchen garden. It holds a national Green Flag award, and has been the venue for the Surrey County Show for over 60 years. Spectrum leisure centre and Guildford Lido, one of the last surviving outdoor pools in the UK, are also part of the park.

Lighting up time during the Olympic Torch Relay in Stoke Park in 2012.

As well has holding music festivals such as GuilFest, it was used for the Guildford leg of the Olympic Torch relay in 2012.

Stoke Park Mansion, that was sited roughly where the skateboard park and a car park belonging to Guildford College is today, was demolished in 1977. What a magnificent building that could have been to be included in the proposed development!

The leader of the council, Stephen Mansbridge, said this week: “We want a park that celebrates the part that Guildford has played in the past, and continues to play as a town of national significance.”

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Responses to Revamp Of Stoke Park With Visitor Centre To Make It More Attractive For Events And Activities

  1. Alan Cooper Reply

    March 18, 2015 at 12:30 am

    That sounds a great idea.

    I am proud to live near Stoke Park and think that GBC do an excellent job in the way they maintain it.

    To offer an extra facility can only enhance a beautiful and popular area.

  2. Les Knightr Reply

    March 18, 2015 at 9:12 am

    One more building on the park, How many more?

  3. Bernard Parke Reply

    March 18, 2015 at 9:20 am

    So the plan is to to make Stoke Park more attractive for events and activities.

    The park is perhaps one of the last informal recreation area left in central Guildford. It is enjoyed now by hundreds of local residents daily.

    It also accommodates several hundred runners each week who enjoy taking part in the free 5km parkrun that is of course when the park is not being used for other commercial ventures.

    Surely this public amenity does more than meet the needs of the 21st century now, as those that live here appreciate.

  4. Martin Elliott Reply

    March 18, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    When the budget is under pressure from central government, services are being cut, etc.

    However, funds are found to improve what have been adequate facilities for decades with careful and frugal investment and maintenance.

    Are we or are we not in a period of austerity?

    It sounds horribly like another vanity project for the current oligarchy.

  5. Linda Jackson Reply

    March 19, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Stoke Park is well maintained and enjoyed by families who picnic, relax or play games in an informal way. Let’s not have more money grabbing ideas or fast food outlets.

    Just a note on the Wild Wood, is it too expensive for those struggling in the poorer areas of Guildford. Just a thought.

  6. Anna-Marie Davis Reply

    March 19, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Can we get these odious Tories out so they can stop breaking things that don’t need fixing.


  7. Andrew Birt Reply

    March 19, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Stoke Park is just a nice open space for people to run, cycle, play games, walk the dog etc., – simple.
    Why does it need ‘improvements’?
    I’m afraid my interpretation of “more attractive for events and activities”, reads as ‘a more attractive way for the Council to earn revenue from private (ie restricted access) corporate events’.

  8. Mary Bedforth Reply

    March 19, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    Please leave it as it is. No chipping away of the space apart from the greenhouses which do not appear to be fully utilized as they were in the Dando/Fairclough era when the Parks Dept grew its own display plants.

  9. Frank Phillipson Reply

    March 19, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    A frippery at a time of budget cuts to essential services. Just coincidently timed just before an election?

  10. Susan Parker Reply

    March 20, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    If GGG is running the council after May 7, the new council will not be planning to put new buildings in Stoke Park.

    There will be a GGG candidate in most wards in the borough. If others want to come forward, we could offer a candidate in all wards – contact us through the website or our Facebook page.

    Money is tight for most of us, and everyone in Guildford has had an increase in council tax. Why are we spending money on buildings in Stoke Park, another £3.5 million on revamping council offices that the council plans to demolish in 10 years, and painting taxis a different colour?

    Let’s make sure we collect rubbish efficiently, keep the streets clean, build council-owned social housing (but not on any green fields or open spaces) and maintain council-run services properly – but let’s stop spending money on things we don’t need.

    Susan Parker
    Chair of Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG).

    • Ngaire Wadman Reply

      March 30, 2015 at 10:25 pm

      Couldn’t agree more, Susan. This proposal is a wretched vanity project and should be discarded forthwith.

      We need to abandon the Executive/ ‘strong leader’ structure of the council, restore direct democracy to Guildford borough, and wouldn’t it be nice to not have tribal party divisions getting in the way of actually using ratepayers’ money for the benefit of all!

  11. Mark Geraghty Reply

    March 21, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    I live near the park and I think the need for useful open space is greater than the need for a cafe and whatever a ‘visitor centre’ is.

  12. James Walsh Reply

    March 22, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    I have grave reservations about some of the proposed “improvements” to the park – especially the mooted “visitor centre and catering facilities”.

    Something similar has been done in Windsor Great Park at Virginia Water and it has changed the feel of that part of the park from a natural open space to a hideous “experience” with associated problems – increased rubbish, an overabundance of signs (including painted warning signs about the slight gradient of the path!) and railed-off viewing areas that completely spoiled the openness of the area.

    While I would support enhancing the historic aspects of Stoke Park and its forgotten corners, to add a visitor centre and catering facilities would completely ruin its ambience. There is a great balance of facilities in the park as is, and also open areas you can walk uninterrupted in, and I don’t see a need (other than to satisfy someone’s desire to turn a quick buck) in making it into an “experience”.

    If people really need a wee and an ice cream, then you can walk into town in 20 minutes and enjoy both at Burger King.

    Just my tuppence worth.

  13. Michael Bruton Reply

    March 23, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    The Stoke Park building seems to be another Tory vanity project.

    Coming along with the £3,500,000 proposed to do up the council offices – which will be demolished in the next decade.

    Tory councillors argue about health and safety and ‘fit for purpose’ – a common phrase for any GBC councillor who wants to waste taxpayer money. One councillor commented that the furniture would be like IKEA. What is wrong with IKEA? Unless one is a snob.

    Most of us are economical with our money. Guildford Tories want a five star lifestyle and to spend our money like water on vanity projects.

    They really do have an inflated sense of their own value and importance. Yet another reason for overturning the Tory fiefdom on May 7.

    I am sure that a different council majority will look at Tory profligacy – not just going forward but over the past four years of the current regime. I wonder what one might discover hidden under the carpet?

  14. Lisa Wright Reply

    March 29, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    Stephen Mansbridge is quoted by the BBC as stating it would cost “some millions”, you could build quite a few houses for our key workers with that money.

  15. Sally Lux Reply

    June 2, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Stoke Park is a fantastic open space that benefits all ages.

    What it is lacking is a really nice all-weather dog-friendly cafe.

    So many people walk dogs on Stoke Park, it would be lovely to have somewhere to meet up with friends that doesn’t entail going into town.

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