Devonshire Park

Location: Eastbourne

Client: Eastbourne Borough Council

Sector: Culture, Civic and Sacred, Leisure and Sports, Master Plan

Cost: £30-£35m

“The new masterplan is ambitious yet offers a more efficient way of providing the necessary facilities through the effective use of existing space.”

“It is very exciting. It is sustaining the area’s heritage and building a future vision.”

Tracey McNulty, Eastbourne Council Senior Head of Tourism & Leisure

Eastbourne Borough Council commissioned Marks Barfield Architects, together with specialist business consultants, to carry out an analysis of the physical, cultural and economic opportunities for Devonshire Park, and draw up a detailed masterplan and architectural proposal for the Park and its key buildings, informed and supported by a business case for investment. The complex consists of a number of significant listed cultural and conference venues, as well as facilities to host major tennis tournaments, including the AEGON International. The site was a key element in the town planning of Eastbourne by the Duke of Devonshire and his architect Henry Currey as a public amenity combining Arts and Sports, starting with the Winter Garden (Grade II) in 1875 and the Devonshire Park Theatre (Grade II). Since then the buildings have been added to, haphazardly, over time and the existing listed buildings have become dilapidated, especially the 1960’s Congress Theatre (Grade II*).

The proposal aims to create a distinctive, thriving, cultural and tennis destination for locals and visitors alike, that will help drive investment into the town, celebrate its heritage and give it a sustainable future.

The key improvements to the site include:

  • The re-landscaping of the Park to integrate the new, larger, international standard tennis courts within a generous landscape setting that includes an avenue of palms, a bespoke children’s playground and seating areas to encourage greater amenity use throughout the year.
  • The creation of a new major public space at the entrance to the park that will encourage cultural events to spill out into the public realm, strengthens the link between the park and the seafront and provides a fitting setting to the two principal listed buildings
  • The restoration and repurposing of Winter Garden and Congress Theatre together with the insertion of a dramatic, new, cantilevered facility between the two that unlocks the potential of the all the facilities on the park to operate as one, highly flexible, adaptable, contemporary arts, community, tennis and business venue.