By Mat Smith
The Royal Pavilion has been in dire need of restoration for some time now. The Royal Pavilion Estate along with Brighton & Hove City Council has recently announced its plans to re-vamp the former George IV palace and gardens.
The Royal Pavilion estate has placed a bid for £14 million of Heritage Lottery funds.
However they are competing against other established competitors such as Canterbury Cathedral.
With The Arts Council having secured £5.8 million towards the upgrade Feilden Clegg Bradley, a Bristol based architect has been commissioned to bring new ideas to the restoration.
His plan includes the building of a new building opposite The Theatre Royal.
He said that he intends to “make the building similar to the original conservatory building…and also create a clear entrance to the estate.”
Further plans to the surrounding buildings are said to also restore ‘The Slope’. It’s the building which joins the Corn- Exchange to The Studio Theatre. The building is currently riddled with asbestos and practically derelict so is a welcome change.
Amanda Jones, project director with the Pavilion Estate said “The master plan is to reconnect the buildings with each other and the surrounding gardens. The plan will conserve the listed buildings for future generations and help more people learn about their history”
The aim of the project is not only to restore the pavilion and its gardens, but to join the Royal Pavilion Museums with the Brighton Dome.
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive at the Brighton Dome said “It’s an ambitious plan but a necessary one.” He went on to say that upon asking people if they think the restoration is an improvement the most popular comment was that “…people said that they don’t feel safe at night walking through the gardens, which is a very worrying thought.”
The proposed restoration has brought up some very controversial issues surrounding plans to move The Pavilion Gardens Cafe. In an outrage the Cafe posted on their Facebook page, all the proposed measures and restoration ideas. Calling for a movement and protest against the plans.
Exert from the status outlining alleged plans:
1. The gardens will be totally fenced off.
2. They will charge you to enter for events (already confirmed).
3. They will charge you or visitors to enter the gardens daily.
4. They will demolish the Pavilion Gardens Cafe.
5. They will construct a building on New Road as a retail shop i.e.new Pavilion shop for income and another to house a Cafe like the one at the level with a few indoor tables and a very limited patio. I emphasis NOT RUN BY US.
6. At least three mature Elm trees (two Himalayan & one Jersey) will be cut down at the back of us bordering New Road.
7. John Nash’s restoration in the 80’s and 90’s will be ruined in the cafe area even though the RP say the opposite. (I have the facts).
8. Residents on lunch breaks, students and school children will not be welcome unless they pay.
9. The other consequence will be New Road will become their main gateway into the Estate and they will fence off and close the other entrances so there will be no thoroughfares through the gardens on your way to work etc.
10. The Royal Pavilion Estate in effect will be privatised and controlled i.e. the general public wont be welcome obviously unless they pay.
11. This as they constantly say will stop anti social behaviour in an instance and give income and as they say sustainability.
All these things in the gardens or at least some of them could be stopped by you if you all put your minds to it.
The Dome then commented ‘correcting’ all the ‘false’ accusations.
David Sewell, Manager of the Pavilion Cafe had this to say “We all want the bid to succeed but the cafe must stay”
There is a lot of controversy surrounding these new development plans and the overall consensus is that these plans have no real structure. Upon looking at the various sources it’s clear that no one body involved wants to comment the officially decided plans for fear of being ridiculed. A decision needs be made as the gardens are such a huge part of the community.