The National Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded initial support and development funding of £214,400 to the Grade II listed Royal Pavilion Garden in Brighton. The preliminary cash injection will be used to progress redevelopment plans and facilitate a further application for a major NLHF grant of £3.4 million.

The scheme forms part of a wider redevelopment initiative to strengthen the Royal Pavilion Estate’s reputation as a key cultural destination, thus securing its long-term viability.

A similar application to renovate the Pavilion was made in October 2018 but wound up being unsuccessful. At that time the need to improve the garden for the nation’s cultural heritage was acknowledged by NLHF. Community involvement in that bid, which included a public consultation featuring more than 1,300 responses, was also praised.

Prior to the unsuccessful bid, the John Nash designed Regency Garden had been added to the Historic England at Risk Register. This decision was taken in response to concerns about high levels of visitor use, erosion of character and a general deterioration in the sense of its history.

What’s the plan?

Proposals in the redevelopment and restoration scheme include:

  • Improving access to the garden for people with disabilities including an accessible outdoor learning space
  • New lighting and a secure boundary to address vandalism and anti-social behaviour
  • Conserving and restoring listed lamp posts and balustrade, flowerbeds, paths, lawns and improving recycling, lighting and seating
  • Overhauling the entrances, installing new gates and signs
  • Improving interpretation with maps and information boards, audio tours and an archival research project
  • Creating apprenticeships and volunteering opportunities particularly focussed around horticultural therapy
  • Building on the success of the Royal Pavilion & Museums’ existing interpretation, learning and creative offer by providing new opportunities in the garden, its most popular and publically accessible site

Phase 1 of the project, which is already underway, includes a major refurbishment and conservation of the Grade I listed Corn Exchange and Grade II listed Studio Theatre. The garden restoration is the main feature of Phase 2. The council will aim to submit the full bid in March 2021, with work starting in January 2022.

“The project presents a landmark opportunity to change people’s understanding and valuing of the garden, building civic pride and community ownership, and using engagement and activities as a positive and constructive way to help reduce antisocial behaviour,” according to councillor Alan Robins, chair of Brighton & Hove City Council’s tourism, equalities, communities & culture committee.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, we can now move forward, working with our city partners, residents and visitors, to develop a scheme which will enhance this important Regency landscape while preserving this precious open space in the heart of our city.”

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