Developing a vibrant community hub at Chiswick House & Gardens

We have today revealed plans for Cedar Yards, a new creative & community campus at the heart of Chiswick House & Gardens.  The proposals develop underused ‘back of house’ areas to create new facilities for the local community and secure our long-term future.

Cedar Yards will enhance and encourage community, cultural and creative enterprise activity and generate vital new income for the Trust. We will create a new learning hub, volunteer facilities and artists’ studios and transform an unused and overgrown 17th century walled garden into a fruit garden, developed with local people to tell the story of our changing climate.  

A plan view of Cedar Yards Community & Creative Campus

Social Impact
These new indoor and outdoor facilities will allow our volunteering and community activity to grow and will enhance the quality and accessibility of our public offer. The affordable workspaces for artists will generate creative employment and local entrepreneurship, as well as creating a new source of income, alongside a programme for schools and community venue hire. In short, Cedar Yards will enable us to do more for our community, for longer.

We are committed to our charitable mission to have a positive social impact and our community, learning and volunteer programmes respond to some of the challenges faced by local people, such as loneliness, isolation  and lack of access to green spaces.  In 2023 we worked with over 50 community groups to support nature-based learning and wellbeing for over 2,300 local people. However demand for our popular programmes now far exceed what we are able to offer in our current facilities.  Creating these new spaces will mean we will be to reach more schools, community groups and visitors, enabling them to enjoy the house and gardens all year round.

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 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.

New Indoor & Outdoor Spaces
Cedar Yards Community & Creative Campus consists of  four key elements:

  • The creation of a Learning Hub, a new carbon-neutral indoor space enabling horticultural and creative learning activities for 7000+ participants annually, alongside office and social space for staff, gardeners, and volunteers. An external spill out space will bring historic horticultural working areas back into use as a new learning and activity space.
  • A new Volunteer Base will provide a practical amenity space to support over 200 volunteers, who play a crucial role in maintaining the House and Gardens for the public to enjoy.
  • The Fruit Garden will transform a currently unused and overgrown late 17th century ‘secret’ walled garden to provide a new garden for local groups, schools, and families to participate in horticulture-themed activities throughout the year.
  • The Creative Campus will convert the currently underused historic back sheds and stables to create affordable workspaces for up to 100 artists and makers.

A third of the project cost has been raised, underpinned by initial generous funding provided by the London Borough of Hounslow, through the recent Strategic Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) grants, as well as funds from the Thriving Communities and Creative Enterprise Zone Grants obtained last year. The remaining funds are being raised from charitable and private sources.

The new Volunteer Base in the Kitchen Garden

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.

Heritage & Sustainability
As the birthplace of the English Landscape movement, our Grade-I listed House and landscape gardens are internationally recognised as a place of significance in architectural and garden history.  The designs for Cedar Yards respond with sensitivity to the historic context, providing new access routes and outdoor spaces whilst adopting sustainable materials and construction techniques.

A wall around the Fruit Garden will be reinstated and new planting will increase biodiversity, whilst referencing its historic use.  In the Creative Campus, new roof insulation, heating and servicing will provide a more sustainable and comfortable working environment,  whilst minimising the impact on the existing buildings and maximising flexibility for the artists and makers. Natural materials will be used for the new Learning Hub and Volunteer facilities, including solar panels and heat pumps that will contribute to achieving the net zero carbon goal.

Xanthe Arvanitakis, Director of Chiswick House & Gardens Trust added:

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

Interested in Finding Out More?
Following extensive community consultation and stakeholder engagement, including public events, focus groups and ‘meet the architects’ sessions with appointed architects, We Made That, we have submitted the proposals to London Borough of Hounslow’s Planning Department and hope to obtain planning permission by early summer. We will update this page with a link to LBH’s planning portal as soon as the plans are available to view online.

We will be holding an open session on Tuesday 19 March for anyone interested in finding out more about the proposals.  Please come along.

Tuesday 19 March 2024
Chiswick House Café

Click here to reserve your place.

The Learning Hub, view from the Estate Yard