Following press releases on 14th November by the Council/Dome/ Festival and words from Cllr Geoffrey Bowden at the E.D.C.C. meeting at Hove Town Hall a number of concerns were expressed about the early plans for the RP estate. These concerns were detailed on the facebook page of the Pavilion Gardens Café, which has been run by the Sewell family for over 70 years. The concerns are reproduced below with corresponding responses from Brighton Dome in italics.
1. The gardens will be totally fenced off.
This is the opposite of our intentions. In fact we want to open up the Royal Pavilion Garden not shut it off. The security needs we have identified are that we need to be able to secure the garden in very late hours/early morning should this be necessary to prevent the current levels of anti-social behaviour which cause damage to the *Grade II listed Garden and threaten the safety of the Historic Buildings.
2. They will charge you to enter for events (already confirmed).
Only occasionally, large cultural, ticketed events we would like to hold will be held in the gardens encouraging more people to engage with its heritage. This will never be the default position and the Estate will be open widely just as it currently is.
3. They will charge you or visitors to enter the gardens daily.
This is incorrect - the gardens will remain a free resource for both local communities and visitors to the city.
4. They will demolish the Pavilion Gardens Cafe.
Our current thinking is that the best solution would be a visitor welcome centre which would include a café. We met again with David Sewell and Friends of the Pavilion Garden Café last week to look at the potential options for a new building to house the café as part of planning for the future of the Royal Pavilion Estate. Consultation with the Sewell Family is ongoing with the aim of reaching an agreed plan to improve visitor welcome and to preserve the Estate’s long term future.
5. They will construct a building on New Road as a retail shop i.e.new Pavilion shop for income and another to house a Cafe like the one at the level with a few indoor tables and a very limited patio. I emphasis NOT RUN BY US.
Early concepts include the consideration of a new visitor welcome building at the New Road entrance to the Estate which would include visitor facilities that would include; toilets, bag and coat storage, ticketing, and a cafe facility that could be operated both indoors and outdoors. This would open up the Estate, as we would like to give a more compelling sense of arrival to the more than 1.2 million visitors from our local communities and around the globe who come here year on year. As above, we are in consultation about options for a new building with the Sewell family.
6. At least three mature Elm trees (two Himalayan & one Jersey) will be cut down at the back of us bordering New Road.
This is incorrect, no historic trees will be removed and we will be actively developing our plans to ensure no protected trees are affected either on the surface or via their roots.
7. John Nash's restoration in the 80's and 90's will be ruined in the cafe area even though the RP say the opposite. (I have the facts).
This is incorrect. The café area is not part of Nash’s work not was it part of any 80’s or 90’s restoration. We want to be more faithful to the Nash Regency design not less.
8. Residents on lunch breaks, students and school children will not be welcome unless they pay.
The Estate will be more welcoming and accessible to everyone so that more people will come and enjoy the gardens during school trips, on weekend visits or on lunch breaks. No one will have to pay. The project will actually extend our existing cultural and creative learning programmes to people of all age groups.
9. The other consequence will be New Road will become their main gateway into the Estate and they will fence off and close the other entrances so there will be no thoroughfares through the gardens on your way to work etc.
This is incorrect. Part of the vision is to have a better entrance which truly welcomes people onto the estate from New Road. It also includes the preservation and use of all other entrances as well as enabling us to restore, repair and maintain our Grade 1 and Grade 2 listed buildings.
10. The Royal Pavilion Estate in effect will be privatised and controlled i.e. the general public wont be welcome obviously unless they pay.
This is incorrect. Our aim is to open up the Estate to vastly improve on accessibility, as well as sustainability.
11. This as they constantly say will stop anti social behaviour in an instance and give income and as they say sustainability.
The vision includes some ideas about how events – particularly free entertainment - could be held in the gardens to discourage anti – social behaviour and encourage more people to use the gardens in the evenings for positive activities rather than those that create problems and cause damage to the Nash restored Garden. The gardens are a delight for the city but they could be significantly improved so that they aren’t misused, rubbished or damaged as they are now.
The Royal Pavilion & Museums and Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival are coming together in wonderful cross cultural partnership to reinvigorate and reconnect this historic Estate. This heritage is in real 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 it’s potential as a world-class cultural and heritage facility for all to enjoy. Our vision is one which will transform visitors’ and our local community’s experience of the estate and properly conserve its historic fabric for future generations.
*The garden of the Royal Pavilion is a grade II garden included on the English Heritage (EH) Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England and is therefore of national interest and significance.