IN 2016 Woking Borough Council published its review of sports facilities in the borough. This included a proposal for new junior soccer pitches on the area of grassland to the north of Goldsworth Park Lake, and construction of a paved cycle track around an area of scrub in its northernmost corner.
The grassland is used extensively by local and visiting dog walkers and others. It and the adjoining woodland represent the only “wild” areas of any size on the Goldsworth Park estate.

The Meadow and woodland (Google Maps)

The Council’s proposals met with considerable resistance from the grassland’s users and local residents. Aside from concerns about disturbance of residents in Claydon Road and uncontrolled parking on neighbouring streets during soccer matches, loss of the natural habitat was cited as a major ground for objection. In response to a petition and representations to local councillors and Council officers, it was agreed the Council’s proposals would be deferred for a period of 10 years at which time they would be reviewed.
As a consequence, Goldsworth Park Community Association established Natural Goldsworth Park to work with other stakeholders in conserving the grassland, colloquially known as the North Meadow (now referred to as “the Meadow”) and its adjoining woodland in collaboration with the landowners, Woking Borough Council and Thames Water, and to foster and encourage the community’s engagement with and understanding of their natural history.
Shortly after its establishment, NGP produced a Vison Statement outlining a number of aspirations for enhancing the Meadow and woodland habitats. This document was reviewed in 2021 and after researching local environmental conditions more thoroughly a new set of objectives was agreed with GPCA and other stakeholders.
An action plan for realising NGP’s objectives over a five year period was produced and can be found hereafter.

Natural Goldsworth Park objectives

1 To maximise the contribution the Goldsworth Park area makes to the Natural Woking and Woking 2050 Strategy objectives
2 To work with other stakeholders in conserving and enhancing local biodiversity and sustainability
3 To provide a safe, enjoyable and visually stimulating natural environment for users

The Meadow and woodland (Bob Challoner)
Fox (Connor Macleod

4 To encourage and provide opportunities for schools and youth groups to use the Meadow area as an outdoor classroom
5 To inform and increase the community’s knowledge and understanding of the Meadow’s and woodland’s plant- and animal life and of that more generally found across Goldsworth Park through personal experience and by print, broadcast media or social media-based information sources e.g. local press and radio, Goldsworth News, Facebook, Twitter; GPCA website
6 To actively promote and encourage the community’s engagement and involvement with the Meadow and woodland habitats
7 In collaboration with other parties, to promote and create opportunities for community participation in expanding its natural history knowledge base and conservation through volunteering and citizens’ science projects
8 To encourage and facilitate recreational use of the Meadow and woodland by the community whilst minimising potential conflicts with the sustainability of their habitats and ecosystems
9 To liaise and work with all stakeholders, particularly the landowners, on matters of land management

Whilst the Meadow and adjoining woodland provide the focus for NGP’s activities, our remit extends more widely to cover the entire Goldsworth Park area including the Basingstoke Canal, the numerous small “wild” areas of trees and vegetation scattered around the estate and peoples’ gardens, each of which presents a unique habitat and ecosystem.
We are very grateful to Woking Borough Council and Thames Water and particularly our Patron Shirley Slocock for their continuing active support for and encouragement of Natural Goldsworth Park’s objectives and activities.
Our Facebook and Twitter pages are regularly updated with news of residents’ plant and wildlife sightings, upcoming NGP events and general chat about the natural world.