Safeguarding the Future of Highdown Gardens - Survey

Update 19th December 2017: Highdown Gardens wins lottery funding for project to protect its future - click for details ...

In 2016 Worthing Borough Council undertook a survey consultation regarding Highdown Gardens seeking feedback on developing a sympathetic Education and Visitor Centre. The public response was positive but we were unsuccessful with a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid at the end of last year (2016).

The Council have received encouragement from HLF to re-apply with a clearer focus on the need for the project and the risk to plant heritage. Due to this we ran another consultation exercise (which closed on 14th August 2017) to explore thoughts and experiences about how to improve the gardens. Over 400 local residents and visitors responded and these have helped shape our revised HLF bid.

You will be pleased to know we have no plans to disrupt the quiet enjoyment of the Gardens that the local community and visitors alike have experienced for the past five decades but we do hope to improve that experience by making further information available about the Gardens and their remarkable history.

The Council will submit a significant HLF bid in August. Further updates will be shown here in the coming months.

You can find out more about why we are doing this below:


Highdown Gardens have been managed by Worthing Borough Council since 1967. Previously they were privately owned, and it was this owner, Sir Frederick Stern, who bequeathed the Gardens in perpetuity to the people of Worthing. The Gardens include many rare and even unique species to the British Isles that were collected by pioneering plant collectors during the early decades of the last century.

At Highdown Gardens, many of the rare species, first planted over one hundred years ago are nearing the end of their natural lives and a sustained programme of propagation and conservation is urgently required.

We hope to improve the experience of the 25,000+ people who visit Highdown Gardens every year and offer new educational and learning opportunities.

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Lottery funding

Any significant improvements to the Gardens cost money and for this reason the Council has decided to apply for substantial funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to ensure that the Gardens may be enjoyed and better understood for many decades to come.

This project aims to provide a better customer experience, however we are seeking your thoughts as to the best approach to learn about the Sterns and their remarkable horticultural legacy.

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The application process

The application process is divided into two separate parts:

  • an initial application (known as Round 1)
  • and a fuller application or development phase (known as Round 2)

This application process can take up to two years to complete and is vigorous and demanding.

We plan to submit our Round 1 application in the autumn (2017) which sets out in broad terms what the project will achieve and what overall costs are likely to be. Your thoughts are integral to inform the project and what improvements should be made.

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About the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

You can find out more about the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) funding on their website:

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