Today’s announcement that the Grade II listed Royal Pavilion Garden site has been added to Historic England’s register of Heritage at Risk underlines the considerable challenge already acknowledged by the council in maintaining this important historic asset and community space.
The Royal Pavilion Garden continues to be popular as a leisure destination for residents and visitors alike. Dating back to the early nineteenth century, the garden surrounds the Royal Pavilion building and over recent years the council has been working with partners including Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival on an ambitious programme to improve and re-unify the Royal Pavilion Estate. The first phase of this project is underway with improvements to the Dome and Corn Exchange.
This garden is highly special, being one of only a handful of restored Regency gardens in the UK, right in the city centre. It has a special status as a public space within a historic royal palace complex.
Councillor Alan Robins, chair of the Tourism, Development and Culture Committee, said: “The Royal Pavilion Garden is well loved by residents and visitors and it is our responsibility to care for them and hand them on to future generations.
“The grounds have traditionally provided a relaxing space in the centre of our city. We remain committed to providing public access to the garden, but the message from Historic England is that we must act now to prevent any further deterioration and protect one of our most precious assets.
“With the Royal Pavilion Estate project we’ve got a fantastic opportunity to join up work on the garden with improvements to the wider estate. We’ll be looking at funding opportunities through partnership with other public sector bodies and the private sector and working with individuals whose generosity is essential to the upkeep of the estate.”
To improve the whole site, one option could be to enclose the whole garden which would enable overnight closure. The council will consult residents and stakeholders on this proposal in the coming months. Officers are also considering how best to address incidents of night time antisocial behaviour.
As part of the Royal Pavilion Estate scheme the council is looking at how best to distinguish the estate site from the surrounding buildings and give an improved sense of ‘arrival’ for visitors. Almost 5 million people visit the gardens every year.
The council has just appointed Sussex-based landscape specialists Chris Blandford Associates to prepare a Conservation Plan and 10 year Management Plan for the garden.
Director Andrew Croft said: “Everyone in Brighton & Hove knows the garden and the Royal Pavilion is an internationally recognised landmark. It’s a remarkable place, a blend of pioneering historic landscape design and modern city centre green space.
“The challenges facing the garden are clear and we are looking forward to working with the council, Historic England and other stakeholders to help develop a viable and sensitive way forward for this special and highly valued landscape in the heart of the city.”
Find out more about the Royal Pavilion Garden and the Heritage At Risk Register