Chiswick House unveils details of planned ‘creative campus’

Image above: Impression of the proposals by Chiswick House & Gardens

Chiswick House & Gardens hope plans will foster greater community engagement 

Chiswick House & Gardens Trust has unveiled plans for a significant redevelopment project aimed at revitalising an under used area in the grounds, currently a car park, behind the conservatory.

The proposed redevelopment includes the construction of a new Learning Hub, volunteer facilities, and artists’ studios, along with the transformation of a neglected 17th-century walled garden into a fruit garden.

The initiative, called the Cedar Yards Community & Creative Campus, has been designed in collaboration with local residents, says Chiswick House, to address the theme of climate change.

The Trust anticipates this project will not only generate additional revenue but also foster increased volunteerism and community engagement. By expanding its offering, the Trust aims to build on its previous efforts, collaborating with more than 50 community groups to provide nature-based learning and wellness activities for over 2,300 local residents last year.

One of the primary objectives of the project, they say, is to promote creative employment and support local entrepreneurship by providing affordable workspaces. Additionally, the Trust plans to generate income through educational programmes for schools and by offering community spaces for hire.

The Cedar Yards initiative is a key component of the Trust’s ten-year strategy to ensure its financial sustainability until 2032.

Image above: Impression of the proposals by Chiswick House & Gardens

Project to be completed by early summer

A planning application (P/2024/0595) has been submitted to Hounslow Council following a series of consultation events. The Trust aims to obtain planning permission by early summer.

Some funding for the project has been secured through various sources, including contributions from Hounslow Council’s Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and the Mayor of London. A significant portion of the total project cost, estimated to be between £5.2 million and £6 million, has already been raised.

If approved, Cedar Yards will consist of four main elements: a carbon-positive Learning Hub, a Volunteer Base, affordable workspaces for artists and makers, and the revitalisation of historic horticultural working areas for outdoor learning and activities.

The Trust emphasises its commitment to sustainability, with plans to use natural materials and install solar panels to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint. The design of the new facilities aims to respect the historic context of the site, incorporating sustainable construction techniques while providing improved access routes and outdoor spaces.

Notably, the Conservatory, currently closed due to safety concerns, is not part of this project. However, the Trust is working in collaboration with the London Borough of Hounslow to explore partnership opportunities aimed at preserving this iconic building.

Image above: Impression of the proposals by Chiswick House & Gardens

“Ambitious” project will enhance the cultural and creative activity in LB Hounslow, says Chiswick House director

Xanthe Arvanitakis, Director of Chiswick House and Gardens Trust, said:

“We are excited to be re-working ‘back of house’ areas to fulfil local needs and bringing these historic spaces back to life. This ambitious project has been designed to directly impact the wellbeing of our local community as well as enhancing cultural and creative enterprise activity in London Borough of Hounslow.

“By creating more public green spaces for local people we can expand our learning and community programme which is currently running at capacity. With the introduction of affordable workspaces for artists and makers we will foster a local creative economy and generate much needed new income for the Trust.

“I want to personally thank all the funders whose generous support has enabled us to reach this pivotal moment: London Borough of Hounslow through the Strategic Community Infrastructure Levy and Thriving Communities Funds, GLA Creative Enterprise Zone and S106 funding, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Linbury Trust, the Foyle Foundation and the Architectural Heritage Fund. As a charity we rely on financial support from these sources, alongside ongoing support from our local community of Members and Patrons.

“Our regular visitors will be able to get involved in the next chapter of this exciting project when we launch our fundraising campaign later in the year.”

Taz Virdee, Chief Executive of C-Change West London and Director at Elevate Community Productions said:

“Chiswick House and Gardens’ remarkable outreach efforts have touched lives across our borough, bridging gaps and enhancing diversity. Local partnerships with community groups, schools and charities create inspiring spaces that nurture connections to greenery and heritage, elevating wellbeing and combating isolation.

“The new facilities of the Cedar Yards development will bring even greater benefits to our residents from Heston and Cranford, particularly the enhanced facilities for disabled and elderly participants.

“Special recognition to Harvinder Bahra for her exceptional support in uniting communities, with gratitude for the funding that made this possible. Thank you and we look forward to continuing working together.”