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Monday, November 2, 1998 Published at 23:49 GMT


Diana gardens 'scaled down'

Diana loved the gardens as they are, said Lord Blaker

The government has confirmed that controversial plans for a memorial garden to Diana, Princess of Wales in Kensington Gardens in London are to be "scaled down in response to local concerns".

But Lord McIntosh of Haringey told the House of Lords that no final decisions had yet been taken by the memorial committee, chaired by Chancellor Gordon Brown.

"I don't think it would be pre-empting their discussions to say that the proposals are expected to be scaled down," he said during a short debate.

[ image: Mourners commemorated Diana's death at the gardens one year on]
Mourners commemorated Diana's death at the gardens one year on
Lord McIntosh did not confirm media reports that the original £10m proposal had been reduced to one which would cost just £3m, including a walkway to St James's Park, enlargement and enhancement of the playground and remedial works.

But he told peers: "I am sure the memorial committee will want to announce their conclusions before the end of the year."

Call for 'sensitive' proposals

Opening the debate, Tory ex-minister Lord Blaker said that if Princess Diana loved the gardens "she loved them as they are".

He told peers: "People who visit the gardens would like to see the gardens as they used to be when Princess Diana was alive."

Lord Blaker said the revised proposals could be acceptable, "if sensitively arranged".

He warned that remedial works would not be acceptable if they involved creating new avenues of trees.

Peace and quiet 'destroyed'

Labour's Lord Strabolgi described the gardens as a "precious green space in an extremely busy urban area".

He warned that the proposed memorial walk would be "used by great bands of tourists and its peace and quiet destroyed".

He suggested instead improving the playground to the north of Kensington Palace and creating a chain of playgrounds in deprived, inner city areas.

Other peers warned against hasty decision-making and opposed the idea of a garden as a memorial to Diana.

In response, Lord McIntosh stressed that the memorial committee, which was independent of government, had "not made up their mind, and they have not made a public statement following their meeting on October 28, and they have not published the results of the consultation process".

Any changes to Kensington Gardens would be funded by the proceeds of a memorial crown coin, to be issued next year, with any shortfall made up by the Royal Parks Agency.

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