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Eltham Palace in South East London has mediaeval and art deco heritage and needed a conservation management plan for its historic gardens.

About

Summary 

English Heritage had made a great success of the restoration of both the buildings and the gardens at Eltham Palace in south east London, which has both medieval and Art Deco heritage. The conservation plan was an ideal opportunity to take stock of what had been achieved, to assess the options for safeguarding the historic landscape, refining the garden restoration and increasing the public use of a particularly well-situated and diverse property. Acorn Tourism’s partnership with ACTA was particularly well suited to this task and provided a practical vision for the future in a well-structured and comprehensive Conservation Plan.  

Our Approach

We were only be able to assess the site, its use and visitor potential in winter due to the very tight timescale for the project. Therefore, to assess the constraints of the site we spent time with the Head Gardener and volunteer team discussing how the garden developed through the seasons, the practical constraints of the site in reinstating and managing the 1930s design, how visitors respond to individual parts of the garden, and all the other issues that could only be properly addressed through a detailed knowledge of the site under all conditions. Similarly, an onsite visitor survey in winter would have produced little useful information, but our structured discussions with the staff who dealt with day-to-day visitor management proved to be very productive.

To ensure we fully understood the site we talked to the London Wildlife Trust to provide nature conservation information  and reviewed the information English Heritage had available on budgets; current managements and maintenance specifications; catering facilities; visitor numbers; car parking capacity; staffing policy; the term landscape maintenance contract; leases; marketing strategy; future events; the relative success of different types of event; past and planned education and outreach.

Acorn’s role was focused on stakeholder consultations, community engagement and the events strategy. To find out the scope for the potential uses of Eltham Palace’s gardens we engaged with the local primary and secondary schools and tertiary colleges, local clubs and societies to find out their needs and how they currently used the site and what might encourage them to use it more in future. Although we couldn’t do a visitor survey during the time frame of the project, we designed a visitor survey questionnaire that the volunteers could implement during the summer season. 

We consulted with site event and hospitality managers to establish the current type, frequency and capacity of events, related concerns, costs and benefits. To establish best practise we assessed the events market at similar venues. Having established the preferred type of events for Eltham Palace we researched the market potential for these events and assessed the impacts of increasing the number of events on the site, locality and the general visitor market. Once the potential types of event had been defined, their impact was assessed.

Outcome 

A vision was set out in a concise statement and drawing which showed how the most significant landscape features of the site could be maintained and enhanced. 

The conservation management policies were the logical outcome of an analysis of issues, vulnerability and significance. We set out each policy with a reason for it in no more than two sentences, in a similar format to local authority planning policies.  

Following a detailed assessment of current landscape use and maintenance issues we provided three future scenarios which were tested on stakeholders. The cost benefits of the preferred option were assessed in detail and a realistic 10-year programme and budget was defined.  

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Conservation Plan for Eltham Palace Historic Landscape

Client:

English Heritage,

Location:

London, United Kingdom
English Heritage

Contact us

3 Woodland Enterprise Centre, Hastings Road,
Flimwell, East Sussex, TN5 7PR, UK

+44 (0) 1580 879970

contact@acorntourism.co.uk