Tower Gardens Pavilion, Skegness
Tower Gardens Pavilion, Skegness
Having stood derelict for ten years, the former Tower Gardens Pavilion has been demolished and a brand-new community building in the town centre of Skegness has been resurrected in its place. The project comprises a community hall, café, community meeting area and changing places toilet, which is the only one of its kind in the region.
RICS Social Impact Awards
Winner of the ‘Leisure’ category in the Regional Awards – East Midlands
Shortlisted in the ‘Leisure’ category of the National Awards
The project’s requirements centred around providing absolute social inclusivity from design and execution to the lasting legacy it leaves for the community. The building comprises a large community hall that can be divided into two separate spaces, a full ‘Changing Places’ hygiene suite for the profoundly disabled, a community café with kitchen and seating area, and a small, town council office. The surrounding land has also been treelined and opened up to the adjoining gardens, which include a children’s playground, ponds, green spaces and an entrance to the town centre.
When the project initially began, there were growing concerns around security of the site due to local issues with drug use, anti-social behaviour, as well as the large scale of the site making it prone to attracting social gatherings. To mitigate this issue, 24-hour CCTV was installed, and security officials were put in place after the first month. Fortunately, after two months they were able to be stood down as there was no anti-social behaviour to justify this level of security. It became apparent that the community from all backgrounds were excited at the prospect of a new space that would be accessible to all and showed investment in the area. Once the construction phase commenced there were no real issues for the team to contend with.
The change to this site is truly transformative. From a derelict, disused site associated with high crime levels, to a multi-purpose, thoughtfully designed and fully inclusive space for all to enjoy and be proud of, the positive outcomes of this scheme exceeded all expectations. In advance of the official opening - before COVID-19 had taken hold - the multifunction room was already fully booked through to the end of 2020 – and this was without any formal advertising to promote the new space. The café was also maximising capacity prior to COVID-19.
Furthermore, the council didn’t have an adequately equipped meeting space prior to this development, whereas it now has a centralised location where the public have access to their local councillors for support and public consultations. This demonstrates just how integral the building is to the community it serves and provides the town with an area to take pride in.
Shortlisted in the ‘Delivering Social Value’ category
Generating social value was at the heart of every stage of this project.
In terms of creating employment opportunities, two mechanical and electrical apprentices were on site over the course of 25 weeks. The completed project also generated full-time positions in the Café Dansant.
The building also created new experiences for local students. Local children have buried a 100-year time capsule within the grounds during the works, including letters detailing why they love Skegness and what the future has to offer, alongside modern-day items to represent history and heritage. Local college pupils also used the site for work experience and were able to attend tours of the building with talks about the project.
The centre of Tower Gardens Pavilion is available to local charities and not-for-profit organisations at a reduced rate and the centre can be hired for social activities such as dance and exercise classes or regular youth group meetings.
The community café is a dementia and age-friendly space with the seating area looking out to the gardens and bandstand. Prior to the pandemic, advance bookings included VE Day celebrations, the annual SO Festival and employment training. All profits used from the community café are used to maintain and sustain the buildings and garden, as well as to support growth of community events like the band stand. Changing Places is the only fully disabled changing place in Skegness at this time outside of Butlins and has improved the accessibility of the town centre for the disabled community.
There were also a number of environmental support initiatives implemented, such as measures that now ensure the use of renewable energy sources where possible. Solar photovoltaic panels, electric vehicle charging points and an air source heat pump, ensure the building achieves an EPC A rating. Sustainable materials were used throughout - including Accoya acetylated wood, a high-performance, long-life engineered timber product that met the requirements for aesthetics and proximity to the North Sea. The building is designed with high levels of insulation and a good air tightness to welcome many generations to come.
The council was keen to conserve local wildlife through the scheme. Bat boxes have been incorporated into the building, and external lights controlled via an ecological timer, ensuring the local bat habitat is not impacted. Soft landscaping is designed to be native, encouraging local wildlife inhabitants.
Overall, since the council took over the management of the gardens and construction of the building with lighting and CCTV, a reduction in anti-social behaviour and crime has been reported in this previously blighted and deprived area.