The 999-year leasing agreement, first announced by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in December, will see the former exhibition hall converted into a sports centre. The charity retains the right to continue using the facilities for its four annual flower shows, but third-party exhibitions such as the Mind Body Spirit Festival and ABTT Theatre Show have been forced to find new homes.
Completion of the deal releases £18m into the RHS’s coffers, which will now be invested in a range of horticultural initiatives under a five-year plan.
“It is fantastic to now be in a position to begin an unprecedented programme of investment in horticulture,” RHS director general Sue Biggs said. “Our plans will help transform communities, add much needed scientific knowledge and safeguard horticulture for the benefit of future generations and the environment.”
Among proposed initiatives is the redevelopment of the RHS Lindley Library and Hall into an open-plan library and exhibition gallery for lectures, events and course use as well as to display the RHS’s collection of literary and botanical art treasures. A venue spokesperson said plans are still in the early stages, and that it continues to take third-party bookings for the Lindley Hall in the interim.
The society also plans to create a world-class scientific research centre, as well as an urban garden and regional centres across the UK, with the first two to open this year. Investments will also be made in the charity’s online portal as well as RHS Wisley and RHS Garden Hyde Hall.
The Association of Event Organisers (AEO), Association of Event Venues (AEV) and the Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) have joined together to launch a three-year research study into the UK exhibitions and live events sector.