February marks an important milestone for the Pavilion Gardens as Parkwood Leisure start operating events and services at the historic venue on behalf of the Council.
High Peak Borough Council announced its partnership with the experienced leisure operator last year following an extensive tendering process over the summer.
And, ahead of the formal handover on Friday 1st February, the Council and Parkwood hosted two sessions for local businesses interested in finding out more about the businesses opportunities the new arrangements will offer.
Extending opening hours
Councillor Tony Kemp, Executive Councillor for Regeneration and Tourism, said: “This week heralds the start of an exciting new era for the Pavilion Gardens – a much-loved attraction and High Peak landmark. By bringing in external expertise we believe we can create far more interest and extended operating hours for visitors, as well as reducing the financial burden on the council tax-payer.
At the information session, Matt Death – Catering Director at Parkwood talked about the importance of extending opening hours to the various areas of the complex.
“We plan to extend opening hours to the main building during summer until 8pm and for example the lakeside kiosk – this will be open more regularly. There are no plans to close in January next year – as is happened in the last couple of years.”
“As the new operators, Parkwood Leisure bring a wealth of experience of the leisure industry and I think visitors to the Gardens, old and new, will be delighted to see what they have got planned. Initial discussions have also begun with local producers and suppliers so it looks set to be a positive development for High Peak businesses as well.
“For our part, we’re very pleased to be embarking on this partnership which offers the best of both worlds for customers – the Council will continue to own and manage the buildings and grounds at this historic venue and Parkwood will deliver modern, high quality visitor experiences for everyone which have the local community and businesses at their core.
“But the Council’s investment in the buildings will continue with further repairs to the Conservatory in particular planned over coming years and, gradually, we will be extending the historically authentic ‘new’ colour scheme throughout the complex.”
Exciting plans revealed
Parkwood’s plans for the venue include:
· New Pavilion Market – a reinterpretation of the traditional market hall for tourists and locals alike with an intriguing mix of retail and culinary offerings featuring the very best of locally produced goods.
· Refurbishment of the existing tea room – with the focus on providing customers with a traditional café environment with a sense of glamour.
· Development of the Conservatory theatre bars – to create a multi-use space in the exisiting conservatory area for drinks receptions and special events.
· An ice cream parlour – a dedicated parlour where guests can enjoy real dairy ice cream.
· Lakeside Kiosk – with improved catering and tickets for rowing boats on the lake, train rides and other seasonal activities.
· Promenade Kiosk – open virtually all year round offering refreshments and the use of new outdoor seating and umbrellas.
Peter Fitzboyden, Managing Director at Parkwood Leisure, said: “We’re all set, ready to go and thrilled to welcome visitors and friends old and new to what we know is a valued and important attraction to countless numbers of people.
“We’re excited to be able to share our vision and plans with people and we’re looking forward to a bright future for the Pavilion Gardens. We want our plans to be of benefit to the local economy and we’ve made a good start when we met with around 90 suppliers, producers and manufacturers last week to discuss opportunities for them to get involved in our proposals for new and enhanced services.
“But, when the doors re-open, it’s very much a business as usual approach as we seek to ensure that those visiting us continue to enjoy our amenities and a seamless transition.”
The handover to Parkwood follows the £3 million project to repair and restore the Octagon Hall. Further investment by both the Council and Parkwood is planned.
For more information about events and what’s at Pavilion Gardens, go to paviliongardens.co.uk