A view of the railway bridge in Sydney Gardens looking north

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.'

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

We have been 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 starting in February 2019.

Read the announcement about the funding on the Heritage Fund website.

What does the project involve? 

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.  

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.

How can I be involved?

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

    • Coming along to events and 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 happening now?

We are working on the technical design of the restoration project, and we are planning the programme of events and activities in 2019.

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. 

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.

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