Sunken Gardens

Following a consultation in November and December 2021, work took place to improve the Sunken Gardens in Bognor Regis.

Sunken Gardens were opened in June 2023

The five animal sculptures chosen via public poll, have now been installed within the sensory garden. These include a badger, fox, seal, starfish and rabbits and were carved by Simon Groves.

Planting to the central bed is due to be completed in memory of Kim Davis.

The new play area includes an in-ground trampoline, climbing frame and basket swing with brightly coloured safety surfacing finishing the space.

The southern entrance has been opened up, and new and refurbished seating has been reinstalled within the sunken gardens and around the perimeter.

The contractor was able to save and relocate the town mosaics within the entrance way path of the play area.

You can read more about the project on this page.

Latest news

October 2023

The renovated Sunken Gardens officially opened earlier this year to a positive response from residents. Wild animals of all shapes and sizes have taken up residence thanks to local wood sculptor Simon Groves.

The skilled chainsaw artist was tasked with creating the sculptures and a poll was created so that the public could choose which animals they would like to see, and the winners were a badger, a fox, a seal, a starfish – and three rabbits.

Simon, who works from a studio in the South Downs crafted the sculptures from sustainably sourced wood, to form part of a nature trail for children.

The project, delivered by Blakedown Landscapes, includes a revamped play area, offering an inclusive roundabout, in-ground trampoline and a basket swing. There is also a new southern entrance with new planting, a sensory area with wildflowers and new footpaths and benches.

Select an image to enlarge it.

Simon Groves local artist with one of his wooden sculptures of two rabbits   Wooden sculpture of fox peeking out from tree trunk

May 2023

The improvement works are almost complete and the gardens will soon be re-opened for the public to enjoy.  The recently laid wildflower turf is already starting to bloom, and new shrub planting is being laid out around the play area and main gardens. Temporary fencing will protect the planting while this establishes.  Planting for the central bed in memory of Kim Davis will be completed at a later date. Our officers are working with the Bognor Regis Community Gardeners and Kim’s family on plans for this.

The tarmac footpath works are complete and the final stage will see brightly coloured safety surfacing laid in the play area. The contractor is aiming to reopen the main gardens soon and  the opening of the play area will follow. The newly installed equipment needs to be checked by an external safety inspector before this can happen. 

Select an image to enlarge it.

Plants in bloom with an established tree in the background Close up shot of a wildflower meadow set against a block of flats in the backgroud

Play equipment in situ awaiting inspection A sweeping tarmac path that is surrounded by plants

The contractor is working to co-ordinate the final phase of the project. Installation of the equipment in the play area is nearing completion and the laying of new colourful safety surfacing within the play area will take place, once the new play fence installation is complete. The refurbishment of the existing footpaths and wall repairs will then be finished off and the beds around the gardens are being prepared for planting. 

Wildflower turf has been laid on mounds on the eastern side, as part of the sensory gardens. The mounds have been formed from soil excavated from other parts of the site and low fertility topsoil has been used to help prevent the meadows being dominated by grasses and weeds. Spring flowering bulbs will be planted in the autumn to extend the period of interest and provide nectar for insects. The meadow will be cut down at the end of every summer so it can start afresh the following year. This helps reduce the fertility and keeps the meadow healthy.

Timber animal sculptures will be installed in the sensory gardens in the summer, as part of a trail for children.

Results of a public poll on Facebook to see which 5 sculptures people want to see created are listed below:

  1. Fox
  2. Rabbit
  3. Seal
  4. Badger
  5. Star Fish

Simon Groves, local sculpture artist, has been asked to create the timber animals.

Select an image to enlarge it.

Play equipment Park entrance





Right ramp Talking tube





January 2023

Blakedown Landscapes commenced their work at the Sunken Gardens on 9 January 2023. With the site completely secured with fencing their first focus has been on opening up the new southern entrance. 

In spite of the recent cold weather Blakedown have made great progress with forming the correct levels for the ramped footpaths and grading soil in the adjacent shrub beds. Two low sections of stone wall have been reconstructed as these were found to be sitting on top of steps identified for removal.

Benches from the lower section of the gardens have been removed for refurbishment and new benches have been ordered for the upper areas. The contractor has also undertaken clearance works in other parts of the site in preparation for the next stage of the project. As much material as possible is being reused on site to minimise waste.

Click on an image to enlarge it. 

New southern ramp Southern entrance





Southern entrance South west ramp and new planting area





December 2022

Blakedown Landscapes SE Ltd. has been appointed as the contractor for the Sunken Gardens project and is due to commence the works week commencing 9 January 2023. Blakedown will generally be working between the hours of 8:00am - 4:30pm Monday to Friday, with the project expected to take approximately 4 months to complete.  

The contractors will be accessing the site from Hothamton car park and will have a small compound located north of the play area. The early works will require the whole site to be closed to the public but as different areas are completed, they will be reopened.

17 November 2022

Funding boost for Sunken Gardens renovation project

10 March 2022

Phase 1: Tree works March 2022

  • routine maintenance of trees in poor condition
  • encourage the better quality trees to flourish
  • to manage existing trees, open up views and improve the sense of security
  • embrace opportunities to establish new planting for the future

Next phase: main works summer 2022

11 February 2022

Sunken Gardens public consultation results revealed

How the gardens will look

The below PDF shows a concept design for the Sunken Gardens:

Sunken Gardens Concept Plan [pdf] 2MB

If you cannot open the PDF, you can view the image by selecting the thumbnail below. The text in the image has been written out below it.

Sunken Gardens concept plan

Play area

1. Recessed entrance points with directional signage
2. 1m high railings with 2no. gates to replace existing wall
3. More accessible play equipment including roundabout, basket swing and in-ground trampoline
4. Existing play equipment retained
5. Existing play trail equipment re-located
6. Replacement toddler play equipment
7. Explorer area with boulders and tree stumps
8. Replacement benches
9. Areas of planting to break up hard surfacing
10. Striped safety surfacing based on beach theme
11. Tiled mosaics of coastal towns from original Pavilion Gardens

Sunken Gardens

12. Sand and re-paint railings
13. Replacement planting of poorer quality trees
14. Low-growing ornamental planting to centre with year-round interest. Potential for central sculpture feature in future
15. Low-growing clipped hedge to improve views through the Sunken Gardens
16. Replacement benches throughout
17. New access point

Sensory Gardens

18. Naturalised planting on mounded areas re-using soil excavated from southern entrance
19. Minor repairs to damaged wall
20. Small number of sensory play elements, accessible from main path

Southern Entrance

21. Allowance to remove sections of wall, improving visibility and sightlines
22. Remove small number of trees to open up views into the site from all sides
23. New southern entrance with ramped access and minor repairs to coping