16 January 2017

Contractors appointment kick-starts first phase of Royal Pavilion Estate project

Brighton & Hove City Council has appointed R. Durtnell & Sons Limited as the contractor for phase one of an ambitious heritage project at the city’s Royal Pavilion Estate.   The Royal Pavilion Estate includes: The Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Royal Pavilion Garden, Brighton Dome Concert Hall, Brighton Corn Exchange, and Studio Theatre

R. Durtnell & Sons Ltd was founded in 1591 and is the UK’s oldest construction company having been grown by successive generations of the Durtnell family.  They have a proven track record in delivering a number of high-profile heritage restorations and cultural projects including Dulwich Picture Gallery, Turner Contemporary in Margate, and Brighton College’s music school. The firm is based in Westerham, Kent.

The project is to be delivered in three phases and will reinvigorate and reconnect the buildings and landscape of the world class historic Royal Pavilion Estate and improve the centrepiece of Brighton & Hove’s cultural quarter.

Phase one works will begin in early February 2017 with a major refurbishment of the nationally-important Brighton Dome Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre alongside essential conservation work.  Brighton Dome Concert Hall will remain open throughout the redevelopment period.

Architects drawings of the renovation and remodelling plans give an insight into the first phase of the project.  The images - produced by architect Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBStudios) –show how the transformation of the Corn Exchange, formerly the Prince Regent’s Riding house, will reveal and restore stunning and previously hidden heritage features as well as providing extra seating and an impressive new viewing gallery.  Major improvements to the Studio Theatre, once a supper room, will include balcony seating, a new artists’ creation space and a café opening onto a plaza at street level.

The majority of funds towards the £21m phase one costs have already been secured from a range of sources, including major contributions from National Lottery players via Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as commitments from a number of charitable trusts and individual donors, council capital funding and a public works loan secured by the council on behalf of Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival. Fundraising will continue throughout the build.

The project is being delivered by two of the UK’s leading cultural and heritage organisations, Royal Pavilion & Museums and Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival which manage and care for the Royal Pavilion Estate owned by Brighton & Hove City Council.

Commenting on the project, Council leader Warren Morgan said: “This is the start of another ambitious project the council and partners have worked hard to bring to fruition. 

“The Royal Pavilion Estate attracts visitors from all over the world and the venues make a significant economic contribution to Brighton & Hove. The buildings are magnificent but they are facing unique challenges and are in need of refurbishment and upgrade.

“We are very relieved and proud to have found a viable way forward to restore and safeguard these treasured buildings for years to come and look forward to seeing phase one of the project brought to life by the newly appointed construction team.”  

Andrew Comben, chief executive, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: “We are delighted to have appointed such an established family-owned business as the contractor to begin works on the restoration and transformation of our historic Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre.  As well as safeguarding this important heritage for the future, the works will encourage new audiences, support artist development and transform visitors’ experience of the venues. It will deliver improvements in accessibility, facilities and infrastructure, and will benefit local residents, community groups, schools, artists, tourists, the regional digital community and local businesses amongst others.”

The Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museum & Art Gallery are also part of a proposal to be part of a cultural trust that would enable the city’s museums service to develop the success of the iconic Royal palace and nationally significant collections, as well as open up potential funding opportunities.

Royal Pavilion Estate

Combining an historic Royal Palace and regency garden, a museum, art gallery and three performing arts spaces, the Royal Pavilion Estate is the city of Brighton & Hove’s cultural heart and the Royal Pavilion its internationally recognised emblem. Its magnificence, its boldness of design and daring experimentation with form established Brighton’s reputation two centuries ago. That heritage is increasingly becoming in need of preservation and the city’s cultural, creative and economic future depends on a plan that makes it possible for the Estate to live up to its potential as a world class heritage and cultural destination. 

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival

Brighton Dome is the south coast's premier multi-arts venue - a three space, Grade 1 listed building made up of the Concert Hall, Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre at the cultural heart of one of England's most creative cities.  Each year Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival presents over 600 events spanning music, theatre, dance, comedy, literature, spoken word, visual arts, film, digital and more as part of its year round programme as well as producing the internationally-acclaimed Brighton Festival in May. A hub for artists across the region, Brighton Dome commissions and supports both emerging and established artists and companies, enabling them to develop, take risks and deliver work of the highest quality.


Royal Pavilion & Museums

The Royal Pavilion & Museums is one of the largest museum organisations in the south east. It is responsible for the city council’s historic buildings open to the public and nationally and internationally significant collections. These historic sites, the quality of the collections, exhibitions, learning and community engagement programmes resulted in 690,000 visits in 2011-12. www.brighton-hove-rpml.org.uk

Find out more about proposals to form a cultural trust for Brighton & Hove’s Royal Pavilion & Museums.


R Durtnell & Sons Ltd

R Durtnell & Sons Ltd is the oldest building contractor in the UK and one of the few companies left in the country that can trace its origins back over 400 years. Today, Durtnell is a forward thinking, modern business that maintains its traditional values of quality, commitment, openness and integrity. With a turnover in excess of £40m, the company is large enough to deliver a substantial range of projects, yet retain that personal touch when dealing with their customers and their construction projects.  Their Head Office is in Brasted, Kent, with project offices set up for individual projects.  The company operates effectively throughout the London and the South East offering traditional and design and build construction, as well as a highly respected restoration and refurbishment service.  Their customers include both private and public organisations in education, residential, health, commerce, industry, leisure and conservation.


About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported