Disposal Of Ventnor Botanic Garden

The council’s recommendation: “To transfer Ventnor Botanic Garden by inviting expressions of interest in a property disposal”. A good idea?

Finally, just over a year after VentnorBlog broke the story that the Ventnor Botanic Garden might be sold off back in August 2010, the Isle of Wight council has issued papers with a recommendation “To transfer Ventnor Botanic Garden by inviting expressions of interest in a property disposal”.

Ventnor Botanic Garden: Council Are Looking At Selling It OffReleasing the long-anticipated document late on a Friday afternoon, as the Isle of Wight council appears to do with potentially-controversial documents, minimises the attention it will receive, as well as ensuring that it won’t be in the CP this week.

Please examine it
We have plans tonight, so can’t examine the details of what’s proposed. Please feel free to read it over (we embedded it below for your convenience) and leave comments as to what you find.

The Disposal Of Ventnor Botanic Garden – Delegated Decision

Friday, 23rd September, 2011 6:58pm


ShortURL: http://wig.ht/28Vm

Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Tourism, Ventnor, Volunteering

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52 Comments on "Disposal Of Ventnor Botanic Garden"

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I’ll make an offer of £1 (no reflection of the value of the asset, you understand, just of the vendor’s track record with previous disposals).


£2 cash


Plus a private pension

The Council seem to be between a rock and a hard place on this one. They are not obliged to run a botanic garden but just how do they offload it? They obviously need a deal that will cover the clawback of £1m if it is not to continue as a botanic garden. Can’t see any developer coming up with that in the present climate. None of… Read more »
Wight Essence

If the Council go ahead with this decision, then I only hope it will become a controversial issue and another nail in their coffin at the next local election.

Debby Robinson

How many nails does a coffin actually need?

Linda Chester

..not sure how many Council’s need but Ventnor’s certainly don’t this big one!

Linda Chester

PS I only meant it would be a big nail if Ventnor LOST this wonderful garden.

witchfinder general
Gardening is big business, If the place is run properly, any organisation that takes it on will be laughing all the way to the bank. It has been run on a shoestring for to long and it shows. A proper garden centre selling all the varieties in the gardens, a reasonable entrance fee, weddings, gardens shows etc would make it a viable proposition. OK it might get… Read more »
Wight Essence
I agree with you about tacky. If the gardens turn into some type of money making enterprise, entry charges will probably be introduced and the uniquness of the gardens will sadly disappear. In my opinion, selling this land to a private owner or business would also show a total lack of respect towards all those paients who died on this land when it was the Royal National… Read more »
witchfinder general
Of course there will be an entry charge, How do you think Heligon, Kew, etc manage to keep going? As for the memory of former patients, what a load of stuff you put on roses! My grandmother was there in WW1, as a young girl wheeling barrow loads of amputated limbs to the furnace. Nothing but bad memories for her and I suspect a lot of bad… Read more »
Wight Essence
Using a period of history (especially the 1st WW) when men in their thousands were getting killed and injured is ridiculous and a simplistic comparison to make. I’m sure most hospitals at this time would have had bad memories. The hospital didn’t close until the early sixties so it’s extremely unlikely the memories of all the patients who stayed there over the many years were as bad… Read more »
Mike Judge

Bring on the next election. The Tories are going to be wiped out.


I support your sentiment Mike, but I can’t share your optimism. Oh well, we can but dream!


Sparsholt College could be the best bet.

An education establishment would bring in funding. And it’s unlikely they would be required to pay back anything as they are not-for-profit organisation accessing government funds anyway

I think it should remain free at the point of use! It’s wonderful to be able to sneak in at any season, in any weather, & commune with the plants, (ridicule me if you like, gardeners will understand!), however long or short a time we have on our hands, & develop the intimacy with the Garden that comes from that. We can’t afford to go over to… Read more »

you get nothing for nothing…the outlets will need every penny they make to stay open let alone finance the garden…it has to be managed as a business by a business before it falls into decay and gets built on


Ventnor Botanic Garden is designated as Public Open Space. This is why it is not fenced, and no entrance fee can be charged. This status can only be changed by Act of Parliament. Any money-making activities in the Garden have to be of the value-added variety – plant sales, open-air theatre, concerts.

I agree with Tryme and Annie that Ventnor Botanic Garden should remain as a public open space, with more money coming in (as Witchfinder General said) from things which people would spend money on – shops, cafe, restaurant, special events – and increased car parking charges (it’s still possible to walk there, or cycle, or get the bus). The plant sales area and shop could be expanded… Read more »
Mr Justice

Sorry, I’m not usually a defender of this council in most other circumstances, but if the gardens are costing money, then they cannot justify the expense while cutting front-line services to the most vulnerable.

I hope an amicable solution is found, but council funding has to stop. Last time I went to Kew, it cost £13 to get in.


With such a porous perimeter, I’d like to see how they could charge an entrance fee without surrounding the gardens in 2 metre high fences or hsving security guards posted along the coastal path. Somehow I can’t see that happening. What you’ll see is £7 sandwiches and more events- corporate and public.

Jane Edmunds
I am speechless yet another Island asset being taken away from US. It seems that my rates and taxes will only be lining top council employees and consultants pockets, and PFI for the next 25 years. At what point do we all really say ‘we’ve had enough’ . I do not think we can leave it until the elections, because this lot will try and get it… Read more »

What are you suggesting then?


DIRECT ACTION OR PROTEST NOW. What use is a council election in 2 years? Facebook site ‘Save Ventnor Botanic Gardens’ started by a councillor has gone.

Where does it stop? There is only so much the Council can flog? If they’re so desperate for money they have to sell the Botanic Gardens, then in my opinion they must be getting down to the bare bones. They try to blame Government cuts for having to flog off their assets, although much of the shortfall of money has been caused by their own mismanagement, incompetance… Read more »
Linda Chester
But are they “their assets” to flog off? I think not. I think they are the Island’s assests which any Council caretake (or should) whilst they are in power. To caretake any assests you first need to have a TRUE appreciation of their value and secondly you need the skill to manage and promote those assests. This Island is so rich in assests. Assests which make it… Read more »
In many ways they are selling off public assets which are not theirs to sell as they belong to the island people who pay for them out out their Council Tax. Before flogging off them off, they should at least ask the island people for their opinion. It reminds me of legalised theft as we never get to see any reductions in our Council taxes from these… Read more »
Linda Chester

Hmm! I think they wouldd argue that they do ask the public’s opinion (via Open Public Meetings and Consultations) – however, whether they listen to what the hear and heed those opinions expressed is another matter…

Robin Days

In our system, we elect people (in hope) to just get on with it. They only really need to seek our approval for their actions at the next (following) election.

I think these councillor’s are in for quite a shock when they eventually seek a further mandate for their, ahem distinctive style of local politics.


Time and time again it is us that are shocked when the Tories win

Don Smith

What’s the alternative No 5?

In case you haven’t noticed the world is changing fast now the US and Europe are in recession. Ventnor Botannic Gardens could be bought by an East European gold-rich Oligarch or one from Asia or the middle east looking for some safe haven for their assets, now that the European economy is about to implode. This property has it’s own coastline, and is plenty big enough to… Read more »

Well, that’s told us then!


I love some people fantasies…Nightsbridge has been the home to oil rich arabs for 3/4 decades and yes, surprise surprise lots of diplomats from all over the world live in Nightsbridge with diplomatic immunity and break many minor laws

Mr J

What a tale. I think we’re getting into fantasy here.

Any buyer, Arab oil sheik or not, would need planning permission for your Mansion/Mosque vision. It’s not very likely is it?

witchfinder general

What would we do without the ‘red tops’ for entertainment.

Wight Essence

Go to the Botanic Gardens! Although be quick, otherwise you will probably have to start paying £10.00 or more to get in.

If charges are introduced in the near future, the entry price will be on top of the parking fee or bus fare and this would make it become far too expensive for many, especially families.


How many people in Ventnor actually go to the Bot.Garden or have been more than once…its always empty when I’ve been

Nobody I know who lives there has ever visited

Ventnor is full of lovely things that no-one appreciates until they are threatened and then its too late..same with the WG

vic barrett

As a local I often visit the gardens winter and summer .The best idea I have heard of was( at the public meeting ) to add £1.00 to the car parking charge, to go directly to the garden maintenance .
local resident


Your suggestion would be simple, fair and a good solution, although it would probably be too complicated for the IOW Council.

Even a £2.00 or £3.00 pound rise would probably be acceptable, especially if people could easily get there by bus as an alternative.

I think there’s possibly a lot of truth in that. I think with a lot of these things we lose them because we don’t use them enough. We don’t live in Ventnor but we do visit the Botanic Gardens fairly often (well, once every couple of months). It’s great that it’s free, but, because of it’s situation, we have to drive there and pay the parking charges,… Read more »
No. 5, you don’t know what you’re talking about, sorry. Hundreds of locals (I’m one of them) regularly visit Ventnor Botanic Garden. Even the Council acknowledge its importance in paragraph 3 of the report http://www.iwight.com/council/what_is_a_council/images/DelegatedDecision-VBGEOI.pdf ‘The Garden, built on the site of the former Royal National Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest, has been in existence as a pleasure-ground since Victorian times. The Garden was… Read more »

wow ..hundreds….365 days a year….needs to be thousnads if not 10’s of thousands if its to be viable


N0.5 is trying to measure the success of the Botanic Gardens by money when it’s success should be judged by the pleasure and education it has brought to many visitors.


No5, where are these 10s of thousands of locals? Ventnor has a population of approx 5,500 and I reckon over 90% of them visit the Botanic Gardens.


its called reality

Steephill Jack

I live in Ventnor and I visit the Botanic Garden about twice a month, more often if we have visitors. It’s wonderful, and I’m sure some of your Shanklin hotel guests love it too.
There’s more to life than the bottom line of the accounts, No.5.


there certainly is..but nobody will touch the botanical gardens unless it is viable…the only other option is to loose it all together

Paragraphs 7-9 of the report mention an ‘Advisory Board’, ‘a group of Island-based experts in business, tourism and horticulture’ to give the Council advice. Given that Ventnor Botanic Garden is of international importance (as accepted by paragraph 3 of the report) it seems strange that we’re not told more details of who these experts were… The other thing to check out is the equality impact assessment in… Read more »
Steve Goodman
As usual, good points from Rowan. The gardens are well used, and can seem deceptively quiet because of the large overall acreage and the various subdivisions creating smaller individual areas into which visitors are absorbed. I am also reminded of the Signal Point fiasco – This recent own goal by Cllr. Brown & friends came to mind as I read about their wish to rob us of… Read more »

Thanks Steve!

Disappointing – The Council yet again fail to see the paradox that their economy drive is actually going to achieve. By hollowing out any value that any resources have, in this case the saving of £300k – will actually cost the taxpayers £4m, (£2.6 visitor centre build cost, £1m returned to lottery, £100k redundancy, £275k house sale) plus the loss of an annual income of £220k. Instant… Read more »