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

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 2021.

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 - 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.

Update January 2020:

The original planning application for the restoration of Sydney Gardens was submitted on the 15th August 2018.  We gained planning approval and listed building consent in October 2018 for the full scheme. We are currently waiting for the outcome of a follow up planning application: Sydney Gardens Project Additions following some further detailed design development. Both applications can be viewed on the B&NES Planning webpages. We are tendering the construction works during February and March 2020 and anticipate the restoration and build project will begin in the Spring of 2020.

How can I be involved?

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 happening now?

We are working on the final technical design of the restoration project. We are also evaluating the programme of events and activities that we ran through 2019, and planning our 2020 programme.

The build and restoration begins in early spring 2020 in the park, and will continue through 2020 and into 2021.

The project team

Keith Rowe - Project Manager

Susan Palmer - Community Ranger

Mali Kedward - Horticultural Participation Officer

Gemma Burgham - Communications & Participation Intern

Greenhalgh Ltd - Landscape Architects

BBA - Architects

Susanna Parker - Archaeology

Johns Associates - Ecology

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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