Being a 187 year old Botanical Garden with original glasshouses to match is no mean feat. For those who are unaware, our Gardens receive no external funding from Birmingham City Council (BCC) or central Government. We are an educational charity and rely mainly on our own visitor admission income and contributions from our conference and banqueting facilities. We are also very grateful for alldonations and legacies, although these cannot be relied on and tend to fluctuate.
It is easy to assume that in the 21st century, the future of our Gardens is secure. However, as vigilant custodians, we know that this is not the case. To secure the future for the next 100 years, we need to take positive action to enable us to entrust our Gardens to the next generation and to ensure that the Gardens remain a great place for residents and visitors to enjoy. We must invest continuously if our Gardens are to evolve successfully in the future.
Working with our landlord, Calthorpe Estates, BCC, Historic England, Heritage Lottery Fund, other Funders and a team of Architects, Planners and Surveyors, we have developed preliminary proposals on how we will improve this unique and precious attraction, raise much needed funding and secure our future. Key to our plan is the provision of more parking for visitors to the Gardens. At present, we have just 100 car parking spaces to serve 150,000 visitors annually. Inevitably, additional parking will have an impact on the area surrounding the Gardens and our aim is to minimise and to ‘green’ development wherever possible. Addressing local concerns about increased traffic congestion will be a priority in all our future planning.
The next stage of our action plan is to consult with our most important stakeholders so recently we invited our members and local residents to a public meeting on 21 November to share our aspirations for the future of the Gardens. We were delighted when more than 150 people turned up to share our vision, listen to our proposals and give us feedback on how our proposals might impact on our immediate locality. Those who attended our consultation have given us ‘food for thought’ which is receiving careful consideration. All comments have been recorded for future use in the development of our plans for consultation, planning and publication in due course.
For those of you who were unable to attend our meeting on 21 November but would like to see the documents that we shared, please click on the link below. We have also added a feedback form so that you can have your say. Your views are important to us: please do complete the form and send it to us.
All feedback received to date confirms the view that the Gardens are a priceless asset deserving of preservation and careful development to ensure their future success. Our mission to secure the future of the Gardens enjoys overwhelming support from those consulted thus far. Attendees have volunteered to assist in a variety of ways including fundraising, writing letters of support, giving guided tours and donating to our cause and we are both grateful and touched by these offers of help. We will be in touch with these people early in the New Year.
We will also keep in touch with all those who wish to be informed of future developments as they progress. This area of our website will be updated as the project proceeds. Please let us know if you wish to receive emails personally about any further developments in our plans. If you would like to be involved in our project, then we are always seeking new Trustees, Volunteers and Fundraisers.
This consultation was the first of many and we look forward to working together with you in the future to make the most of this beautiful site and to pass on a much improved asset for the next generation to enjoy. We know that our illustrious forebears, John Claudius Loudon (Gardens designer), Joseph Chamberlain (President) Neville Chamberlain (Treasurer) Hugh Nettlefold (Benefactor) David Cameron (Curator), William Latham (Plant breeder and curator) and Ernest Wilson (Plant hunter) would be proud of our continuing efforts to secure our beloved Gardens as we progress into our third century. Thank you for your support.