Painting of the view along the Kennet and Avon Canal through the white iron bridge with overhanging trees

Our Vision

'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.'

The painting featured is by the 20th Century artist John Nash and is of the Kennet and Avon Canal passing through Sydney Gardens, Bath.

What is the Sydney Gardens Project?

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 February 2019, we were successful in our Round 2 bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund with a grant of £2.7m.  The total funding secured to improve the historic park is £3.4m.  Our restoration project in Sydney Gardens will take place over a three year period from February 2019 to February 2022. Read the announcement about the funding on the Heritage Fund website.

What does the project involve?

The funding is being 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 - 22). 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.

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

Our project started the 'Delivery Phase' on 1st February 2019:

2019: Detailed technical design, programming of works, with public events, activities, training and volunteering.

2020: Delivery of restoration, building works and landscaping, volunteering and training programme, and designing interpretation

2021: Continued delivery of the restoration and build with accompanying volunteer and training programme, activities and partnership events

2022: Completion of the project

What was the approved design plan?

The original planning application for the restoration of Sydney Gardens was submitted on the 15th August 2018, following a series of public consultations.  We gained planning approval and listed building consent in October 2018, and following further detailed design development, the Sydney Gardens Project Additions gained planning approval in April 2020.  Here is a link to the illustrative masterplan for Sydney Gardens as agreed by B&NES Planning and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. If you would like to view our planning application and the associated documents, please go to the B&NES Plannning Portal and search using the application number 19/05443/REG03. 

What is happening now?

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected our scheduled programme moving it forward by at least 6 months, and we have had to meet the challenges of bringing the Sydney Gardens scheme within the approved budget from 2016 and mobilising contractors on site. We have had to take a great deal of cost out of the scheme.

Working with our cost consultants and preferred contractors over the Spring of 2020 we looked at where we could make significant savings while keeping as closely as possible to the overall benefits and outcomes of the scheme. Following these negotiations, we are beginning our build and restoration programme with Edgar Builders for the Main Works Contract and Sally Strachey Associates for the Conservation Works Contract in Sydney Gardens in August 2020, and we anticipate the programme will take at least a year. 

Read more about the build and restoration programme and changes to the scheme in our latest e-news (August 2020).

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected the project?

Our scheduled build and participatory programme has been affected:

    • the build and restoration programme has been moved forward by around 6 months
    • we have had to cancel or postpone our volunteer and training activities until it is safe to restart
    • we have had to postpone our partnership programmes and work with learners 
    • we created some special activities connected to Sydney Gardens that families could do at home promoted through social media, and we distributed activity and art packs to families of one of our key partners, working with Bathscape and The Holburne.

Who is the Sydney Gardens Project team?

Keith Rowe - Project Manager

Susan Palmer - Community Ranger

Mali Kedward - Horticultural Participation Officer

Gemma Burgham - Communications & Participation Intern

Matthew Watson - Horticultural Apprentice

Who is the professional team working on the project?

Greenhalgh Ltd - Landscape Architects

BBA - Architects

RPS - Archaeology

Johns Associates - Ecology

Mann Williams - Civil Engineers

Smith Consult - Mechanical & Electrical (M&E)

Randall Simmonds - Quantity Surveyors

How can I be involved?

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic and in response to government guidance, we have postponed all our public events and activities. This includes volunteer events and activities. We will be back in the park with lots of activities and volunteering as soon as it is safe to do so.

Over the coming months there will be plenty of opportunities including:

    • Coming along to activities in the park
    • Volunteering in gardening, communications, archiving, documenting, oral history, and at events in the park
    • Taking part in horticultural training, species surveys and community archaeology
    • Taking part in discussions that shape participation in the park
    • Join the Friends of Sydney Gardens

Contact our Community Ranger Sue Palmer

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.

What is the background to the project?>

In 2017 the Sydney Gardens Project partnership was successful in securing £332,000 to develop a detailed restoration plan for Sydney Gardens from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This funding was Round 1 in the HLF programme. Over the Development Phase, the project team worked with local communities, organisations and stakeholders and a multi-disciplinary technical team led by Landscape Architects LDA Design Ltd. We:

    • undertook technical site surveys for utilities, historic buildings, ecology and habitat
    • organised and trialled events and activities
    • commissioned research into access and barriers to visiting the park
    • met and planned 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

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 first public consultation took place in November 2017. As a result of feedback, we updated the restoration plan for Sydney Gardens in April 2018 and exhibited them at the Friends of Sydney Gardens Community Day in April 2018 and at a public exhibition in Bath Central Library for 2 weeks in May 2018, open to public comments and feedback.  We made minor tweaks to our design masterplan as a result of this public exhibition and feedback for our Round 2 submission.

Events and activities took place as part of our Development Phase from Autumn 2017 to Summer 2018 in Sydney Gardens so that we could trial participatory activities. These included learning sessions with local schools, public events such as the Friends of Sydney Garden's Community Day, wildlife surveys and learning sessions, historic tours, talks about stone conservation and a Tree Walk. 

National Lottery Funding for Parks:

HLF’s Chief Executive Ros Kerslake 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.

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