A view of the railway bridge in Sydney Gardens looking north


'Revitalise Sydney Gardens as a beautiful Pleasure Garden with peaceful and tranquil spaces, that achieves a renaissance as a unique, fun and restorative environment, for all ages; - its remarkable built and natural heritage, people and events, told and experienced in witty and eclectic ways.'


What is it and what’s involved?

The project is a partnership between Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Parks Team, The Friends of Sydney Gardens, local residents’ groups and the Holburne Museum. In 2017 the partnership was successful in securing £332,000 to develop a detailed restoration plan for Sydney Gardens from the Parks for People Heritage Lottery Fund grant programme. This funding was Round 1 in an HLF programme to secure a total grant of £3.4m to improve the historic park.

Over the Development Phase we:

    • Undertook technical site surveys for utilities, historic buildings, ecology and habitat
    • Organised events and activities
    • Commissioned research into access and barriers to visiting the park
    • Met with community groups and organisations
    • Researched the history and heritage of the gardens
    • Worked with our partners and key stakeholders to develop the design plans


Where are we in the process?

We submitted our Round 2 bid to the Heritage Lottery's Parks for People Fund on August 15th 2018, following a successful project 'Development Phase' from Spring 2017 to June 2018.  Our Round 2 bid is the final stage in our project to secure a total grant of £3.4 million to improve the historic park. We will hear in January 2019 if we have been successful.

The project team has been working with local communities, organisations and stakeholders and a multi-disciplinary technical team, led by Landscape Architects LDA Design Ltd. The Development Phase involved refining the initial plans, trying out events and activities and undertaking further consultation.

What are the plans?

The funding will be used to restore historic buildings, invest in landscape and garden restoration works, and create new play areas for all ages, over a three year programme (2019 - 21). Alongside the works, a programme of events and activities around art, nature, horticulture, wildlife, play, sport, archaeology and history will be put on. The project will celebrate the fascinating history of the gardens, with its Cosmorama, Labyrinth, Merlins Swing, Concerts, Public Breakfasts, Galas and Illuminations.  


How can I be involved?

Public consultation events, exhibitions and online surveys about the plans took place throughout the Development Phase and we collected a broad range of comments and feedback from residents and neighbours and from wider stakeholders.

The planning application for the restoration of Sydney Gardens was submitted on the 15th August 2018: view our planning application.

Sign up to our mailing list to receive a monthly e-newsletter for project updates, details of events and activities in the park, how you can participate and volunteer and opportunities for free training. 

Go to our Events page for details of current activities.

'Like' us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

If you're interested in volunteering or have any questions or comments, contact our Community Ranger Sue Palmer.

You can also join the Friends of Sydney Gardens to support the park now and in the future. The Friends run monthly Volunteer Gardening Sessions every Second Sunday of the Month from 10am to 12 noon.  The Friends welcome new volunteers. They have the tools, just bring some gloves if you have them.  The meeting point is by the depot gates at the entrance to the park behind the Holburne Museum.


What are we currently doing?

We are waiting to learn the outcome of our Round 2 application to the Heritage Lottery's Parks for People Fund in January 2019.


Can I see the plans and designs from the initial Round 1 bid in 2016?

Click on the links below to view the PDF documents from the Round 1 bid:

Sydney Gardens Parks for People Stage One Masterplan

Play Area Stage One Plan

Sydney Gardens Parks for People Application (Round 1)

Sydney Gardens Outline Activity Plan (Round 1)

You can read more about the history of Sydney Gardens on Wikipedia, on the Historic England Website, and about Jane Austen’s fondness for the gardens.


Support for the project

Councillor Bob Goodman, Cabinet member for Development and Neighbourhoods (Conservative, Combe Down) said of the Round 2 funding bid for Sydney Gardens: "The submission of the HLF bid is an enormous achievement for all concerned. I am confident that this bid represents an opportunity to restore a truly remarkable Park which is close to my heart."

Chairman of the Friends of Sydney Gardens, Jonny East, said of the Round 1 funding award from the HLF that enabled the development of the project: “This is a great example of how the council’s Parks Team, working in partnership with the local community, can attract a substantial amount of external investment to help restore and improve this historically important, and much-loved, park.”

HLF’s Chief Executive Ros Kerslake said, on behalf of HLF and Big Lottery Fund: “Public parks play a vital role in our health and well-being. With this investment from National Lottery players there’s real opportunity for a rejuvenated Sydney Gardens to deliver huge benefits to the whole community.”

To date, more than £850 million of money raised by National Lottery players has been invested in parks since 1996 through the Parks for People grant programme.  The Heritage Lottery Fund Parks for People programme uses money raised by National Lottery players to support the regeneration, conservation and increased enjoyment of public parks and cemeteries. In England the two Lottery Funds have been working in partnership from 2006 to deliver a multi-million pound investment in public parks.

heritage lottery fund logos

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