St Albans-based Butterfly World sanctuary to close

The £27m Butterfly World Trust visitor attraction in St Albans, Hertfordshire, is to close after making trading losses.

The news came in an announcement by the attraction’s chairman, John Breheny of building company Breheny. 

In an email to friends of the project he said: "It is with immense regret that I am having to write to you, to announce the closure of the Butterfly World Project, effective from the end of the 2015 season."

"Butterfly World remains a seasonal visitor attraction, and the cumulative level of trading losses could only be sustainable whilst there was still a realistic hope that the necessary funding could be found to build the [proposed] biome and thereby complete the project.

"Without the prospect of a viable phase four Biome, I can no longer expect Breheny employees to fund the project indefinitely without being able to promise them even the merest hope that some of the considerable investment to date and the sacrifices they have made, will somehow produce some level of reward."

The attraction was part of the Rose National Rose Society gardens, sold off in 2003. Butterfly World Trust bought three-quarters of the RNRS's 24ha gardens after outbidding a £3m offer from property developer Catesby. 

A competition called Future Gardens launched the Hertfordshire attraction, with Andy Sturgeon and Peter Thomas among 12 participants paid £12,000 each to construct their garden designs. Ivan Hicks designed the landscaping on the site.

On launch in 2009, patrons David Attenborough, David Bellamy, Alan Titchmarsh and Emilia Fox, as well as most of the gardening media, praised the attraction, but only 3,000 paying visitors came in the first month.

Founder Clive Farrell said he hoped for 600,000 a year, and a figure of a possible one million visitors a year was quoted in planning documents. Some 50,000 a month were needed to keep the site going.

A planned 100m diameter biome, due to open in 2011, was not built and the site closed each winter. The future of the site is not yet known.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

IoG Saltex 2016 - show preview

IoG Saltex 2016 - show preview

This year's Saltex will be looking to build on the success of last year by packing in a multitude of exhibitors and sessions over the two days, Sally Drury reports.

According To Dunnett ... Horticulture needed to 'colour in' green infrastructure

According To Dunnett ... Horticulture needed to 'colour in' green infrastructure

It's now around one year since work started on Sheffield's groundbreaking "Grey to Green" scheme, one of the largest urban green infrastructure projects in the UK.

Tree lifting, moving  and planting

Tree lifting, moving and planting

Successful relocations can see even big trees flourish while costing less than buying new stock, says Sally Drury.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Contracts & Tenders

Sally Drury on professional gardening

Sally Drury

A monthly checklist of things to do and watch out for to keep your garden looking its best.