Rose society faces legal challenge

Rival bidder acuses Royal National Rose Society of backing out of agreement

Troubles continue at the Royal National Rose Society. With the financially troubled society a fortnight away from selling off three quarters of its St Albans, Hertfordshire garden to property developer Catesby, a rival bidder, the Butterfly World Trust charity, has complained that the society is “reneging on an agreement” to sell the land to it and is threatening to take the case to the Charity Commissioners. The BWT has spent £170,000 developing plans for an Eden Project-style biosphere that the RNRS promised could go ahead, says BWT project instigator Clive Farrell. RNRS trustee John Adkins has said that the BWT can still happen, but Farrell disagrees. “Even if BWT gets together with Catesby and the RNRS, we won’t get permission because the basis for BWT was to save the RNRS.” Farrell told Horticulture Week that he made a revised offer for the land last week, which is higher than Catesby’s bid. He added that the BWT’s solicitors are advising over a formal complaint to recover losses from the RNRS and also about a formal complaint to the Charity Commission. He also said he has received letters of support from RNRS members, who believe the estimated £3 million sale to Catesby will destroy the 24ha garden. Adkins said the RNRS had to take a better offer if it came along under Charity Commission rules. He added: “We’ve not sold out to Catesby. We hope permission is granted for the biosphere.”

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