HERE'S a first glimpse of a new 'pocket park' being created in the heart of York.

Work has started on creating a new public open space for the whole community at York Theatre Royal.

The £150,000 Patio Garden Project aims to provide a family-friendly outdoor space that’s adaptable, multi-functional and able to host a variety of activities and outdoor events all year round for theatre audiences, visitors and the community.

The scheme was launched with a public appeal for donations in 2018 but work has delayed until now by pandemic restrictions, and the project cost has risen from £50,000 to £150,000 to ensure accessibility and sustainability as well as inflationary price rises for materials and services.

The garden is in an historic location between two listed buildings – the Theatre Royal and De Grey House on St Leonard’s Place. Originally an extended garden between these buildings, the patio area was created as part of the Patrick Gwynn design for the 1967 foyer extension of the theatre. The design included unique 1960s triangular paving.

Yorkshire-based company Lizzie Tulip Landscape and Garden Design has worked on the project. Lizzie has an extensive portfolio and is a Chelsea Flower Show medal winner.

The planting palette within the border areas will provide year-round interest for visitors as well as passers-by on the street with trees, shrubs, perennials, ferns, ornamental grasses and climbers to provide structure, blossom and foliage colour. Many will be beneficial to birds and insects. Bulbs will also offer seasonal interest.

Theatrical references within the planting scheme are playfully included as rose varieties Rosa Falstaff and Dame Judi Dench take centre stage in the summer.

The design includes a flexible performance space with staging, an outdoor café area and lighting that will enable evening use of the space.

A new ramp will make the space fully accessible for wheelchair users and buggy users.

Work on transforming the space began this week and should be completed by September this year.

Lizzie Tulip said: “The scheme will open up and make accessible this under-utilised space as an environment for visitor and residents to enjoy as a garden for theatre, a garden for entertainment and a garden for relaxation and refreshment. It is such a pleasure to work on this much-needed Green space within the skirt of the city walls and York Minster.

Jonathan Bryant, Secretary and CEO of York Conservation Trust, said: “York Conservation Trust is proud to have a strong partner relationship with York Citizens Theatre Trust through which it cares for York Theatre Royal for the benefit of York’s many communities and visitors to our city.

“The Patio Garden Project reminds us that theatre can have many stages. It makes excellent use of external space adjacent to the highly-acclaimed 1967 extension by Patrick Gwynn and will be a valuable new public space in the city.”

As well as public donations, the theatre was awarded £2,000 from The Bruce Wake Charitable Trust and also secured £3,000 from an individual donor.

You can donate to the Garden Patio Project here.