Bath’s Sydney Gardens, the UK’s only surviving Georgian Pleasure Gardens and one of the oldest parks in the city, will be restored thanks to National Lottery players, following news of a £2.7million grant.
The money, which has been awarded jointly by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund, will see a range of projects to rejuvenate Sydney Gardens, which first opened in 1795, and was a favourite spot of Jane Austen.
Bath & North East Somerset Council is leading the restoration project called Sydney Gardens: a 21st Century Pleasure Garden.
It will see the Grade II registered gardens and its listed buildings conserved, whilst areas of the park that are currently closed to the public will be reopened.
With the funding, Sydney Gardens will also become Bath’s first dementia-friendly park.
Historic features including the Loggia, Minerva’s Temple and the Edwardian toilets will be restored, flower gardens will be replanted and wildlife habitats and viewpoints will be improved.
In addition, the plans include a new café kiosk and toilets in the play area with highly accessible toilets for people with additional needs (a Change Places facility),which will be part funded by Bath City Forum.
Existing buildings will be refurbished to create a community pavilion out of the toilet block which lies adjacent to the Gardeners Lodge and an artist/ craft workshop space within a former substation called the Bothy, at the top of the gardens.
Plus, it will also see the refurbishment of four tennis courts and have a new play and active zone for all ages and abilities.
The building and landscaping work will be enhanced with an inventive year-round programme of activities and events. There will also be the opportunity for a horticultural training programme for volunteers and work experience placements.
Councillor Bob Goodman, cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Development, said: “This is fantastic news for the gardens and for the city. I grew up in Bath and have many happy childhood memories of the gardens and park so it means a lot to me personally to know we can restore them.
“We needed National Lottery funding to take the work that we, and partners like The Friends of Sydney Gardens, have already achieved, beyond a series of capital projects and really bring the gardens back to their full glory.
“This much-needed grant will enable a major heritage restoration project which will benefit people of all ages and abilities. I am especially delighted that Sydney Gardens will become the city’s first dementia-friendly park and I hope the work that is planned will see these wonderful and historic gardens revitalised for the public good.”
HLF’s Chief Executive Ros Kerslake, said, on behalf of HLF and Big Lottery Fund: “Parks are essential to the health of the nation and they are home to some of the UK’s best-loved heritage.
“Money raised through National Lottery players will enable local people to transform Sydney Gardens into a hub for the community, with the many health and well-being benefits that will bring.”
Over the past 18 months BANES Parks Service and The Friends of Sydney Gardens together with other organisations including the Holburne Museum, Residents Associations, the Canal & River Trust, Julian House, Age UK Bath and local schools have been involved in projects to help restore and promote the gardens.
Detail design for Sydney Gardens: a 21st Century Pleasure Gardens project will begin in the New Year with construction planned to start in 2020.