Huge support for Chiswell Green’s Gardens of the Rose

A CAMPAIGN to keep the Gardens of the Rose in Chiswell Green open in the wake of parking problems which has limited its opening period has received overwhelming support for its future.

Both the Herts Advertiser and the Royal National Rose Society (RNRS) have received numerous letters backing a last-ditch bid to get planning permission for permanent parking adjoining the site in Chiswell Green Lane.

Both the gardens and the RNRS will be forced to close if they cannot get permission for 30 permanent parking places so that they can open for at least four months a year.

Currently the RNRS is only able to open the gardens for around five weeks a year because it has no permanent parking and has to get temporary permission annually from the district council.

A dispute with neighbouring Butterfly World, which is built on land sold by the RNRS, over combined parking off Miriam Lane is unlikely to be resolved after years of negotiation.

That has left the RNRS cash-strapped with the garden opening raising more income than membership yet limited to only a few weeks a year.

The RNRS is submitting a planning application next month for permanent parking on a Green Belt site next to the gardens.

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A previous bid was turned down but chief executive Roz Hamilton is hopeful that the new proposal answers all the concerns raised by council planners.

If the application was unsuccessful, she said, the RNRS board had already decided that both the gardens and the society would have to close.

Among the many letters of support for the gardens is one to district councillors and planning officers from long-time St Albans resident Betty Cammell who recalled that in the past the gardens had rivalled the Abbey and Verulamium as a tourist attraction.

She went on: “It was always a ‘must see’ for foreign visitors and an inspiration for all gardeners.”

She pointed out that bouquets presented to medal winners at the London Olympics had consisted of four different varieties of rose and questioned how the gardens celebrating this country’s national flower could be allowed to disappear.

Ward councillor Gordon Myland, who did not want to comment on the pending planning application because he sits on the committee which will consider it, said this week that the gardens were “tremendously well regarded” and it would be a great shame if they had to close.