A tourism chief has said Pavilion Gardens Conservatory planting scheme was ‘never under threat’ following the announcement of plans to ‘scale it back’ and create a bar.
High Peak borough councillor Tony Kemp’s assurance comes after Gardens’ management firm Parkwood Leisure published an artist’s impression showing one side of the much-loved flower beds removed - and replaced with a theatre bar area.
The proposals - which Parkwood has stated they have changed ‘since the initial visuals were produced’ - come as part of its plan to make the conservatory ‘a more usable space’.
However since the plans and the artist’s impression were unveiled they have been met a furious online backlash - including a petition against plans signed by more than 2,000 people.
Coun Kemp, member for regeneration and tourism, said ‘someone seems to have got the idea that we’re going to do away with the planting area’ but this was not the case.
He said: “An artist’s impression is just an artist’s impression and this is not indicated to be a particular bit.
“It’s an artist’s impression of the concept of what’s someone’s trying to explain.
“We’ve always held pre and post-theatre events in the conservatory and that’s substantially what we are trying to do.
“I’m not saying at some point in time we might not want to modify some parts of the area but what we are not indicating to do is have a clean sweep of the planting.”
Coun Kemp said the conservatory was a ‘much-loved feature’ which was ‘an integral part of our wedding, Opera House and Festival offer’
He said: “This is something which we and Parkwood will want to capitalise on to make the venue even more popular.
“The Opera House is keen to work with Parkwood to develop their cultural packages and the conservatory has hosted pre and post-theatre events for many years.
“While I have a say in things I’ll not willingly see changes to the Pavilion Gardens that I don’t believe are fully justified and will deliver a better experience to visitors - whether they be local or from afar.”
High Peak MP Ruth George has backed the petition opposing the published plans.
She said “The Pavilion Gardens and leisure centres are assets that we’ve paid for over many years and it’s only right that local people have a say.”
To view and sign the petition, visit bit.ly/2I7WbYR.