The Friends of Hurst Park was formed by a group of local people in response to a proposal to turn Hurst Meadows into a cricket pitch and outfield in 2011. The Meadows are part of an area known as Molesey Hurst, now called Hurst Park. Following a public consultatation which was overwhelmingly in favour of protecting the wildflowers and grassland area of Hurst Meadows, local people felt there was a need to do more to protect Hurst Park as a whole from any kind of development, restriction, fencing, disposal, sale, leasing, mineral working or change that might affect the open access we have all enjoyed for many years. To this end, working with Elmbridge Borough Council officers and councillors, local people formalised a Friends' group.
The Friends now has hundreds of members who are all users of the park.
Hurst Park is a swathe of about 80 acres of land, including Hurst Meadows and Little Hurst Meadows, lying alongside the River Thames in Elmbridge, Surrey, upstream of Hampton Court Bridge; it is a popular open space and a lovely landscape, which is very well maintained by Elmbridge Borough Council.
Hurst Park has faced several threats in recent times, including:
- proposals to lease off something like five acres for a cricket pitch and outfield for a period of at least thirty years; such a change of ownership could, over the years, bring pressures for fencing, buildings, access restrictions, changes in the management of the ground, and much else that cannot be foreseen
- A planning application to built a 30m x 10m x 8m water activities centre, with similar fenced enclosure behind, alongside the Thames Path at Hurst Meadows, with a dedicated launch area on the river's edge
- identification in Surrey County Council's strategic minerals plan as a potential working zone (category 2); this is a rolling programme to ensure that Surrey has a bank of land to meet government targets for supply of minerals (sand and gravel)
- worrying precedents in the disposal of parcels of nearby public land to Molesey Boat Club for private use as boat storage and development of a rowing tank and gym; despite local objections, the transfer went ahead
- and cumulative impacts from any changes that might over time alter the character of the landscape and the way it has been traditionally used by the public for informal recreation and leisure.