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Saturday, January 10, 1998 Published at 06:44 GMT


Locals oppose £10m Diana remembrance garden plan

Plans for a £10m garden of remembrance to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace have been described as "a recipe for disaster" by residents in the royal borough.

They fear plans by the Royal Parks Agency for a floral garden attracting an estimated five million visitors a year could result in the area developing into a theme park.

Their concerns have been echoed by Sir Jocelyn Stevens, Chairman of the conservation body, English Heritage. He says any memorial to the Princess must create a setting "worthy" of the palace, which he describes as one of London's finest buildings.

The Royal Parks Agency, which manages Kensington Palace Gardens, has submitted a plan for a memorial garden to a government committee seeking ways of commemorating the Princess's life.

Traffic fears

It is thought to include lavish flower beds, a children's garden, walkways and locations where personal tributes can be left.

But Sir Ronald Arculus, Chairman of the Kensington Court Residents' Association, says in a letter to The Times that it will attract hordes of tourists, bringing extra traffic and litter.

"Is such a development right outside Diana's old home really the right way to show lasting respect for her memory? A better use for £10m would be for charity. A dignified memorial garden need cost only a very small fraction of that sum," he writes.

In a separate letter to The Times, Sir Jocelyn writes: "A memorial park must not be a theme park.

"It cannot provide for a frenzied variety of activities if it is to fulfil its role as a place of memory where people would be free to stroll or to sit, to remember and celebrate the Princess's brief life."

Most tickets snapped up

Meanwhile, tickets for visits to Princess Diana's burial site at her ancestral home are expected to sell out less than a week after they became available.

More than 115,000 of the 150,000 tickets on offer have been snapped up since a bookings phoneline opened on Monday.

Althorp Park, near Northampton, where Diana is buried on an island set in a lake, will open to the public from July 1 - the Princess's birthday - until August 30.

Tickets allowing people into the grounds of Althorp cost £9.50 for adults, £7 for senior citizens and £5 for children - making the estate one of Britain's most expensive tourist attractions.

Tribute album raises £40m

Despite the fact that profits will be donated to the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fund, there has been criticism of the decision to introduce admission charges.

It has also been announced that the Diana tribute album has raised £40m worldwide for her good causes in just four weeks.

With tracks donated by stars like the Spice Girls and Pavarotti, the album has smashed fundraising records, raising almost 10 times more than any previous charity album.


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