Whole lotta love for the Royal Pavilion Garden!
Residents and visitors have been expressing their affection for Brighton’s historic Royal Pavilion Garden and are eager to get involved and see this precious public space enhanced and preserved.
More than 1,350 people took part in a recent survey, keen to have their say on how the area could be improved and enhanced for future generations.
Results clearly show that the garden is loved and valued by both residents and visitors, and over 100 respondents expressed an interested in volunteering.
Residents and visitors described the garden as ‘a beautiful open space,’ ‘a unique haven in the city centre‘ and ‘a place for sitting, relaxing and watching the world go by.’
The survey was launched after the garden was listed on the Heritage at Risk register last year. As a result, Brighton & Hove City Council has applied for Heritage Lottery Funding to carry out improvements to the garden, as part of the Royal Pavilion Estate programme. If the bid is successful, a draft restoration plan will be drawn up which will incorporate the survey results.
The Brighton & Hove City Council survey asked residents and visitors to comment on all aspects of the garden from planting, lighting, seating and walkways to busking, attractions, events and security.
The survey showed that the top three priorities for improving the garden were:
- Improving infrastructure for rubbish collection and recycling
- Improving lighting throughout the garden
- Improving the presentation of the Prince’s Place entrance to the garden (adjacent to the public toilets)
Respondents were keen to see incidents of anti-social behaviour in the gardens addressed, but there were mixed feelings about the possible introduction of a boundary fence to close the garden overnight - 609 people agreed with the idea, 613 disagreed while 82 said they neither agreed or disagreed.
The vast majority of respondents, 92%, said they felt very or fairly safe in the garden during the day. This figure dropped by almost half at night time with 43% feeling safe.
79% of respondents didn’t think anti-social behaviour was a problem during the day, but 41% said it was a problem at night.
There was a strong call for more security within the garden, with many people calling for the introduction of park wardens or attendants and an increased police presence.
Many respondents supported the idea of more events in the garden including night time illumination, garden shows and music events. Most people, 654 respondents, felt busking should continue as it is.
Residents were strongly in favour of finding out more about wildlife in the garden with strong support for activities such as bat talks and dawn chorus walks.
Other popular suggestions included:
- Restoration of planting beds to reflect the original Nash design/planting style
- Enhanced drainage and replacement of the existing irrigation system to support intensive use of the lawn area
- Simplification of internal fencing and removal of unnecessary fencing within the garden
- Removal of inappropriate and visually intrusive planting such as the hedge between the garden and the Corn Exchange to restore original Regency views and upgrading the paths.
- Enhanced lighting including the restoration of the historic light columns and introducing up lighting to highlight key trees and features
- Overhaul of garden furniture such as benches, bins and signage
- Information boards to tell the story of the garden along with monthly highlights and wildlife information
Cllr Alan Robins, chair of the tourism, development and culture committee, said: “The Royal Pavilion Garden is one of the city’s most well-loved open spaces so it’s no surprise that so many people took the opportunity to complete the survey and have their say.
“Their views, and the results of the consultation, are extremely important as we await the result of our funding bid and plan for the future of the garden.
“In the meantime, I’d like to thank all those who completed the survey and, in particular, those who have expressed an interest in volunteering in the gardens. Their support will be invaluable in the future upkeep of this precious public space.”
A decision on the council’s Heritage Lottery Funding bid is expected at the end of September.