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Tuesday, January 13, 1998 Published at 11:36 GMT


Locals object to Diana memorial garden
image: [ One proposal is for the commemorative garden ito be located in front of the palace ]
One proposal is for the commemorative garden ito be located in front of the palace

The proposal for a special garden at Kensington Palace to commemorate Diana, Princess of Wales, has been met by a cool response from local residents concerned about possible traffic congestion.

Kensington Palace was the focus of much of the nation's grief after the Princess's death. The tens of thousands of flowers placed there by the public took three weeks to clear.

The Royal Parks Agency, which manages Kensington Palace Gardens, has submitted a proposal for a memorial garden to the Government committee examining how to commemorate Diana's life.

It has been suggested that a the garden should be located in front of the palace and could cost up to £10m.

Traffic congestion

Robert Vigars, Chairman of the Kensington Society (Dur: 23")
But the Chairman of the Kensington Society, Robert Vigars, has raised objections about possible traffic congestion and difficulties caused by the large number of people expected to visit the gardens.

"What's going to happen if 25,000 people descend on it in one day? How are they going to get here? What traffic congestion is going to be caused? Where are their coaches going to be parked? What are they going to do to the natural scene in Kensington Gardens? What is going to happen to the growth of the grass? ... These are the sort of questions we want answered," he said.

Hordes of tourists

[ image: Ctitics say Diana was
Ctitics say Diana was "not associated " with gardens
Last week Sir Ronald Arculus, Chairman of the Kensington Court Residents' Association, wrote in a letter to The Times that the gardens 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 wrote.

Sir Ron Strong, former director of the Victoria and Albert Museum and a friend of Diana's also thinks that a commemorative garden may not be a good idea.

"Whatever one has associated Princess Diana with, one certainly hasn't associated her with gardens. One certainly associated Prince Charles with gardens, so there is strange irony in that suggestion," he said.

Sir Ron Strong, former Director of the Victoria nd Albert Museum (Dur: 34")
Sir Ron also points out that if gardens were to be created it might better to restore the historical gardens at Kensington Palace, not build new ones in front of the palace.

Chancellor favours garden proposal

So far the Royal Parks agency has given few details of the garden proposal, but it is thought to include lavish flowerbeds, a children's garden, walkways and areas where personal tributes could be left.

The Chancellor Gordon Brown, who is heading the committee considering some 10,000 proposals of ways to commemorate Diana, has said that he favours the idea of a garden at Kensington Palace.

The committee will meet again next month and consult with charities linked to the Princess.

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