Conservationists have voiced fears the restoration of Hemel Hempstead’s Water Gardens may not go ahead because of EU rules.
Hertfordshire Gardens Trust says Geoffrey Jellicoe’s post-war design conflicts with an EU directive that states water courses should be returned to their natural state.
The trust says the scheme hinges on getting an exemption from the European Water Framework Directive from the Environment Agency (EA).
Kate Harwood, conservation co-ordinator, said: “This hasn’t been a chalk stream for 50 years. All of a sudden when we want to tidy it up and restore it to its unique Jellicoe status, it seems to matter. Chalk streams are rare but this is unique – there’s not another one in the world.”
Dacorum Borough Council says it has submitted a bid for Lottery funding to restore the gardens.
In a statement the council said: “We are working with the EA to build more ecological improvements into our plans, which will support the regeneration of the Water Gardens and assist the EA in meeting the requirements of the European Water Framework Directive. The stage one bid was submitted at the end of August and we will find out whether we have been successful in December.”
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Angling Trust has called for the gardens to be returned to a chalk stream.