RHS fifth garden for Salford

The RHS is leasing a 60ha site in Salford from Peel Holdings.

The historic grounds at Worsley New Hall in Salford form part of the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater’s estate and adjoins the Bridgewater Canal in Worsley, Salford.

RHS Garden Bridgewater is planned to open in 2019 as part of the RHS’ wider 10-year £100+ million investment programme.

The move is a collaboration between the owners of the historic estate, Peel Land and Property, Salford City Council and the RHS. One million visitors a year is the aspiration. The development could cost £30m.

The RHS would not give details of the lease's length or any other of the commercial arrangements of the deal with Peel. 

Executive vice president Jim Gardiner said: "This is a site made in heaven."

Peel Land and Property Group own and manage 1.2 million m² of property and 15,000 hectares of land and water. Its holdings are concentrated in North West England with a total portfolio value of £2.3 billion.

The lease of the derelict site is believed to be for hundreds of years. The RHS has been in talks with Peel for 15 months after Peel approached the RHS.

RHS Garden Bridgewater will join the RHS’ current portfolio of gardens at Wisley in Surrey, Rosemoor in Devon, Hyde Hall in Essex and Harlow Carr in Yorkshire.

The announcement comes in a year when the RHS has had record visits to its four gardens, achieved its highest membership in its 211 year history at 445,000 and the highest number of online visits with 15.1 million unique users achieved to date this year.

RHS director general Sue Biggs said:  "We always thought it would take us a long time to find the ideal site for our fifth garden, but with its beautiful landscapes, good public transport links and outstanding location, Worsley New Hall was an opportunity we couldn’t miss. 

"Thanks to the support of Salford City Council and Peel Land and Property, they have enabled us to create this new garden, which will bring beauty, knowledge, social cohesion, health and wellbeing, employment and enjoyment to millions more people within Salford, Greater Manchester and the surrounding regions."

"We know that with the growth in visits to RHS gardens and our increased engagement with people wanting to garden and grow plants, the time is right to embark on this exciting ambition to create what we believe will become one of the UK’s greatest gardens."

The RHS will work with a landscape architect to develop a masterplan for RHS Garden Bridgewater, which adjoins the Bridgewater Canal at Worsley. Developments will include the restoration of the 4ha Walled Kitchen Garden, recreating and developing historical features such as the tree lined Garden Approach and recovering the Terraces, which sit between the lake and the site of the lost Worsley New Hall.

There will also be a new Learning Centre.

John Whittaker, chairman of The Peel Group said: "For many years we have waited to seize the right kind of opportunity for this historic and unique location and we are proud and delighted that our site at Worsley New Hall is now set to become the RHS’ Fifth Garden.

"We’re very excited about the RHS creating such a beautiful and inspiring destination garden on the fringes of the city. The RHS are perfect to bring this area to life and the Fifth Garden will leave an incredible legacy for the people of Salford. Equally, its creation reinforces our investment in the Northern Powerhouse as it will attract interest and visitors from across the North West and beyond."

Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart said:  "The RHS’ plan to bring Worsley New Hall back to life and create a new garden of national and historical significance in Salford is exciting news for the city and the North West.

"The RHS’ commitment to deliver this ambitious project is testimony to the city’s continued transformation and I am proud to say that Salford is growing. The RHS Garden Bridgewater will bring further long-term investment and commitment which will generate hundreds of new jobs and create considerable educational, volunteering and community engagement opportunities, as well as learning opportunities and an improved transport network. As City Mayor I am pleased to embrace another key moment for the city which will secure enormous economic and environmental benefits."

Biggs added: "RHS Garden Bridgewater will attract hundreds of thousands of visitors for the benefit of local communities and RHS members, as well as the region’s socio-economic, environmental and cultural development. The gardens within the grounds will mature and develop over decades, providing a long lasting legacy that will enhance Greater Manchester and the North West forever."

It is 14 years since the RHS last acquired a garden when the charity was gifted RHS Garden Harlow Carr in 2001.  Its flagship garden in Wisley Surrey, which welcomes one million visitors a year, is 115 years old and today all four RHS Gardens are recording record growth, with a combined audience of 1.76 million visitors a year.

The creation of the RHS Garden Bridgewater will be subject to all relevant planning and legal processes.

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