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Jun 09 • 2013 • ButterflyGardenRNRSRoseRoyal National Rose SocietySocietySt Albanschiswell

GREAT NEWS FROM THE RNRS

EVERYTHING is coming up roses for a threatened St Albans tourist attraction which faced closure because it could not resolve parking difficulties. The Royal National Rose Society (RNRS), which has its internationally-known gardens in Chiswell Green, warned last August that not only the garden but also the society itself would have to close if it could not get permanent parking for visitors. But this week RNRS chief executive Roz Hamilton and John Breheny, chairman and chief executive of civil engineering company Breheny which now owns 95 per cent of the neighbouring Butterfly World, announced that agreement had been reached between the two parties not only about parking but also other collaborations including joint ticketing and discounted entry to both attractions. A delighted Roz said: “We need to build on the positiveness of both sides because we can complement each other so much. I think it is good for both organisations, not just locally but from a tourist perspective.” St Albans council leader, Julian Daly, who had brokered several meetings between the two parties, also welcomed the agreement. He said: “I think together they will be much more successful than individually. It has taken a long time but this is the next stage and a sensible step for everyone.” The agreement follows years of rancour between the two parties which left the Gardens of the Rose unable to open for more than a few weeks in the summer because it could not get planning permission for anything other than temporary parking for visitors. Negotiations about using car parking at Butterfly World, which was built on land sold by the RNRS to founder Clive Farrell, kept stalling and the impasse led to a decision by the RNRS that closure would be inevitable unless the situation could be resolved. RNRS president Bernard Williams said this week: “We could not survive with just a six-week opening period. We have to be open for the whole season.” When the Herts Advertiser revealed that the RNRS and its gardens might have to close, we launched our Keep the Roses Blooming campaign and support poured in both to this newspaper and the RNRS. Breheny’s purchase of the majority of Butterfly World resulted in round-the-table discussions and the two parties agreed that parking for garden visitors would be on the Butterfly World site and joint ticketing arrangements introduced. Although it is too late for the gardens to open for more than a limited period this summer, from next year it hopes to open all summer long as well as get a licence for wedding ceremonies to be performed there. Mr Breheny said on Monday that when his company became the majority shareholder, it had become aware that there were problems in the background between Butterfly World and RNRS and was keen to resolve them for the benefit of both parties. He confirmed that the butterfly biome, which was to have been the centrepiece of the project under Clive Farrell’s plans, would not be built in the current financial climate but it was hoped that Butterfly World would open as an all-year-round attraction in the near future. The limited opening period at the Gardens of the Rose in the past few years had hit the RNRS hard because even in those few weeks of opening, it raised more income from visitors than from membership. Eighty per cent of its visitors are from overseas as the gardens house one of only two rose trial grounds in the world. The gardens celebrate their 50th anniversary this July during the 2013 opening period from June 8 until July 29. Butterfly World will remain open until November 3 this year.

Details of all our roses are available on our web site. Over 1000 varieties to choose from.

www.countrygardenroses.co.uk

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Oct 15 • 2012 • GardensGrenNationalRoseRose NewsRoyalSocietychiswell

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Gardens of the Rose

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HOPES are rising that an end could be in sight for the car parking problems which have plagued the Gardens of the Rose in Chiswell Green.

St Albans council leader, Julian Daly, and planning portfolio holder, Teresa Heritage, arranged a round-the-table meeting last month with the Royal National Rose Society (RNRS) and the neighbouring Butterfly World to try and resolve the parking issue.

And RNRS chief executive, Roz Hamilton, said that as a result the situation was “looking positive”. They should know by the end of the year if they can share parking with Butterfly World, extend their opening hours and look at obtaining such valuable assets as a wedding licence which would ease the RNRS’s financial plight.

The rose gardens in Chiswell Green Lane have been forced to limit their hours of opening in the summer for several years because of the parking issue which followed the sale of part of the RNRS land to Butterfly World.

It has meant that the RNRS has to rely on temporary permission from the district council for visitors to park there for a period of only weeks.

But with the annual opening of the gardens the biggest money spinner for the RNRS, Roz said in August that the society had already agreed it could not continue and would have to close the gardens as well unless it obtained planning permission for 30 adjoining permanent parking places.

The closure warning in the Herts Advertiser prompted numerous letters of support both to this newspaper and the RNRS and Cllr Daly said at the time he was going to make another bid to bring all parties together around the table.

Roz said this week that Butterfly World had agreed in principle to share parking, a decision which was awaiting ratification from the company which has the mortgage on the land, and admitted that the situation was, “looking positive”.

Another round-the-table meeting will be convened in early November. Should the issue still remain unresolved, the RNRS will go ahead with submitting their application for 30 permanent spaces which had been due to go to the council this month.

Roz praised all the people who had backed the RNRS and wanted to see the Gardens of the Rose remain open. She added: “I want to thank everyone for all the support we have had.”

Details of all our roses are available on our web site. Over 1000 varieties to choose from.

www.countrygardenroses.co.uk

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