Pavilion Gardens could be fenced off by 2024

Posted On 16 Aug 2022 at 2:11 pm


Plans to fence off Pavilion Gardens and lock the gates at night to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour are back on the agenda.

The idea was first mooted in 2013, and gained momentum in 2017 when the Grade II listed gardens were first placed on the national Heritage At Risk register.

Now, the first designs of how it could look are set to be unveiled in the coming weeks after initial consultations with community groups.

If the gardens are fenced off, this could allow ticketed evening events, which could help raise funds for the upkeep of the gardens.

Once the designs are finalised over the next eight months, an application will be made for £3.4 million of lottery funding, and if successful, work would start in early 2024.

The proposed changes include

  • widening the footpaths
  • improved planting
  • a programme of activities
  • provision of a changing places toilet
  • improving boundaries around the site
  • closing the garden at night when the worst of anti-social behaviour, damage and violent crime happens

One of the groups consulted, the North Laine Community Association, says it does not want access to the gardens to be restricted, particularly at winter when daylight hours are limited.

In the latest issue of the North Laine Runner the association said: “From our point of view, this would mean the gardens would be open for the very few hours of light each day in winter months.

“The rationale is to preserve the safety of the Royal Pavilion, the historic landscape, and the public.

“From our collective viewpoint, although many visitors enjoy the gardens, it is the main garden space for North Laine residents as it is one of the few green spaces in the area, and is a place to meet and enjoy the Pavilion Gardens cafe.

“More than anything else, the gardens are part of the local community as well as a city-wide resource and thoroughfare and should not be surrounded by fencing and gates.”

The latest proposals have been worked on since Brighton and Hove City Council received a £214,000 lottery grant in December 2019 to develop initial designs.

Now the plans for the gardens, which have since passed to an independent trust, are due to be unveiled this autumn

Brighton and Hove Museums – the new name for Royal Pavilion and Museums, said the garden was a victim of its own popularity.

It said: “The number of people visiting has caused damage to the plants and wildlife, litter is difficult to manage and at night, the area suffers from anti-social behaviour.

“It also has one of the highest crime rates in the city. Sussex Police recorded 130 crimes in the garden from April 21 to February 22, of which 33.5% were crimes of violence (assaults, robberies and sexual offences).

“It has been placed on the Heritage England At Risk Register for concerns about high levels of visitor use, erosion of character and a deterioration of the sense of history in the garden.

Consultation has taken place via surveys of garden users onsite, meetings with 16 different stakeholders including the North Laine Community Association, and focus groups with residents, higher education providers, and schools.

“We have also interviewed approximately 70 members of community groups representing the key target audiences that we want to benefit through targeted work from the project which are families and adults on low incomes, young people, people with disabilities and people with mental ill health.”

The proposals will go out to wider consultation in the autumn, and people will be able to comment online and at a community day in October.

Designed by Pavilion architect John Nash for George IV in the 1820s, it is one of the only Regency gardens in the world.

Its renovation is part of a wider project to restore the wider Pavilion estate, which got underway in 2017 with the ongoing refurbishment of the Grade I listed Corn Exchange and Grade II listed Studio Theatre.

For more information, visit https://brightonmuseums.org.uk/a-garden-fit-for-a-king.

  1. ChrisC Reply

    “From our collective viewpoint, although many visitors enjoy the gardens, it is the main garden space for North Laine residents as it is one of the few green spaces in the area, and is a place to meet and enjoy the Pavilion Gardens cafe.

    The cafe closes at 5pm which is well before the gardens would likely be closed off.

    I don’t think any residents of North Laine are using the gardens at 8pm on a winters night to enjoy a closed cafe.

    • Chris Reply

      I thought Victoria Gardens was supposed to be a central park area too, or is that rented out too much and in such a bad state that nobody wants to go there?

  2. Gareth Reply

    Taking public space out of the public realm. So that they can close it for private events. It’s simply dishonest to portray it as protecting listed property or controlling anti social behaviour.

  3. Billy Short Reply

    Somebody here needs to point out the obvious downsides to this cynical commercial plan. It’s totally shameful.
    1) We love the Pavilion Gardens because they are a public space, beautifully maintained, and always open as a central city park, offering shelter out of the wind.
    2) We photographers, tourists or in my case local, go there all the time, during the daytime and in the evenings.
    3) it’s also a safe place where people who can’t afford to go to restaurants and bars go to spend the summer evenings. Go there to see for yourself. There is very little trouble, and mostly it’s just groups of friends meeting up and chatting.
    4) The gardens are also a major thoroughfare in the city centre and, if fenced off, would mean much longer journeys – especially if locked up at night. And what a shame for the all the tourists who walk through the Gardens after their restaurant supper, enjoying seeing the Pavilion so beautifully lit up.
    5) This is actually a land grab and the privatisation of a public space, for the sake of saving costs and earning money for richer people’s benefit.
    6) I note that nobody who actually uses the park has been consulted on this. The idea that we’re somehow protecting an ‘at risk’ space by erecting a fence is not actually true. The Polilce crime figures for the area also show little trouble in the area – despite the Pavilion security officers being told to log every bike ride through the gardens as a crime.
    7) Yes we need new toilets, and yes, we could do with the bins being emptied after 5pm each evening. But all the issues people complain about are no reason to sell out our public space so that it’s fenced off at night, with the sole aim of cutting costs and to allow the Pavilion complex to put on pay-per-view shows.

    • Harold Reply

      How can it be safe if there is a high level of crime reported?! Not sure about your logic on that one. Locked at night only would be a good idea I think.

      • Billy Short Reply

        Hi, please re-read what I wrote.
        Crime in the Pavilion Gardens is surprisingly low, according to Police statistics, and that’s because most people do respect the heritage space.
        The Pavilion’s own version of crime statistics include anti social behaviour like cyclists unaware that you can’t cycle through there, and people having a wee behind a tree because the toilets are closed too early.
        The majority of rubbish you see is left by bins which because of cuts in services are not emptied later in the afternoons.

        All that so called ‘anti social behaviour’ is no threat to the buildings and, if the gardens are fenced off, will just transfer elsewhere nearby. The ‘at risk’ allegation quoted was not based on crime. but on the gardens’ management’s own disorder and failure at long term planning.

        If you want to witness true anti social behaviour, then take a look at New Road, which is outside the fenced off area.
        If you want a true picture of how the Pavilion Gardens are currently used after 6pm then take a look yourself, with an evening walk there. It’s a lovely after-work space which they are hoping to rob from us for no good reason.
        The Pavilion is lit up as night falls, and the lawns, east and west, are chilled places to sit if you don’t want to party in pubs.

    • Stay Inside Reply

      5) This is actually a land grab and the privatisation of a public space, for the sake of saving costs and earning money for richer people’s benefit.
      6) I note that nobody who actually uses the park has been consulted on this.

      That about sums it up… now be quiet and do as you are told by your Green Superiors as they know what is best for you.

  4. Phoebe Barrera Reply

    But you’ve now got all those lovely Valley Gardens providing an additional public space with grass and flowers, and will get even more when VG3 gets implemented.

  5. Jon Reply

    The solution to the highest reported crime rate might be the Police as they have a Police station about 100m .

  6. Nichola Wilson Reply

    Hands off!!! I go there and I respect it, we have a police station 2 minute walk away? Stop taking the locals land away, 😤

  7. Paul Reply

    Radical idea tackle the street drinkers and druggies job done

  8. Patcham Guy Reply

    If you respected it you would want it to be closed off at night.
    What’s the problem?

    • Billy Short Reply

      If you went there in the evening, you might see for yourself how there is no real crime or security issue.

      It’s a lovely place to visit in the evening and to sit and chat with friends, away from the pubs, restaurants and city centre mayhem. Some of us meet there after work.

      There is also full security around the Pavilion itself , and on those rare occasions if someone steps too close to the building the security staff tell them to stand clear, over a tannoy system.

      Many photographers gather there each evening to take photos, because it is a beautiful landmark to photograph at sundown.
      Not everyone sits at home after 7pm in the evenings.

      This is on a par with closing libraries on several days each week – to save staffing costs – except libraries aren’t a major local tourist attraction or a local public gardens and a wind-free meeting space.

      I’ve lived in Brighton all my adult life. Any the damage that has happened to the Pavilion over the decades has not come from people using the Pavilion Gardens.

      There is a regular crime issue in the nearby New Road, but that is outside the proposed fenced off area.

  9. Gareth Reply

    I knew that when the Dome was transferred to “Trust” they would try this again. It’s awful that Brighton and Hove Museums are attempting to use hysterical and unfounded suggestions of a big anti-social behaviour problem, to take public land out of public use.
    This is an important pedestrian route through the centre of Brighton and I frequently use it to access North Road, the lanes and the seafront, at all times of the day. Not only is it an important route but it provides space for people to sit enjoy the gardens listen to music etc. As a resident of B&H I wasn’t even aware of any consultantion.
    The monetization and restriction of the public realm is going on all over the country. In Salford footpaths redirected away from the riverside so that Hotels can keep the public out. It is public space, and should be available to all of us.
    I predict that will find, that if this proposal goes ahead, the area will be off limits to the public for more and more corporate events.

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