Exciting proposals, including a children’s playground, craft stalls, a new shop, a remodelled visitor centre and exhibition spaces at Hall Place and Gardens will be discussed at next week’s Places Overview and Scrutiny Committee (16 October).

Proposals for the site have been drawn up by consultants, funded by the Heritage Lottery, who have studied what the site currently offers and how it could be developed to become financially sustainable.

The improvements would be funded with the investment of £600,000 by the Council. The ambitious plans include a natural, woodland style themed playground offering a high quality inclusive experience, designed sensitively to suit the gardens beautiful and historic surroundings. This would be the second major new themed playground introduced into Bexley in three years – following the launch of the hugely popular ‘Belvedere Beach’ in summer 2017.

In view of the substantial investment and new visitor attractions, and in order to ensure self-sustainability into the long term at this highly significant heritage site, it is proposed that a small garden entrance fee, but with a discount for Bexley residents and further discounts for children. Family tickets and annual season tickets would also be available for regular local visitors. Other attractions on the site such as the tea room, the new shop, gallery, Butterfly Jungles and Jambs Owls would not incur the new garden access charge. Unlike many similar heritage sites in the area, parking will remain free.

Cabinet Member for Places, Cllr Peter Craske said: “These ambitious proposals are key to our long-term plan to ensure Hall Place and Gardens remain at the heart of our Borough for years to come. Since taking over management of the site in 2017, we have introduced a number of new programmes and attractions, such as the popular Brick City and dinosaur exhibitions, as well as providing a remodelled wedding package, but there is so much more we could offer visitors. We have such faith in its potential that we are planning to make a substantial investment to ensure visitors of all ages will continue to enjoy Hall Place and Gardens for years to come.”

The proposals will be discussed by Places Overview and Scrutiny Committee before being taken to Public Cabinet in January 2019. If approved, the plans will be subject to the usual planning considerations where necessary.