On 29 July 2021 the Minister for Housing, gave approval for the construction of the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre within Victoria Tower Gardens – a grade 2 listed public park. The Charity has challenged this decision through the courts and on 20 July 2022 a Court of Appeal Judge found in our favour and concurred with the High Court’s decision to quash the planning permission. However, the Government is continuing to pursue this project.
We welcome donations to help us continue to challenge this project. We thank all those who contributed to our Crowdjustice campaign funding our legal challenges with the generous support of Richard Buxton Environmental Solicitors and their team of barristers including Meyric Lewis, John Howell QC and Richard Drabble QC.
We have published our correspondence and kept a Record of Events if you want to find out more and see the full judgment.
Victoria Tower Gardens, in central London, runs immediately along the Thames and provides the setting for the World Heritage Site around Westminster and the Houses of Parliament. The Charity has prepared a Statement of Significance about the site to elaborate on the Inventory entry.
In January 2021, the Secretary of State announced that as well as committing £75m to the construction of the memorial and learning centre in this park the Government would guarantee free public access in perpetuity to the buildings. The Charity wrote to the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Parks and Greenspaces and the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee to ask for a parliamentary inquiry into this project and the use of public funds. To date a parliamentary inquiry has not been granted but in July 2022 the National Audit Office the Government’s spending watchdog has raised a number of concerns about the scheme, including the lack of work to find a suitable alternative site.
The Charity has also sought for the park to be declared Heritage At Risk by Historic England. So far that request has been dismissed as premature. The Charity disagrees as a planning permission has only been quashed by going to the High Court and the Government may either seek further legal proceedings or other routes to deliver their project.
Investigating Victoria Tower Gardens: Historian and former House of Commons Clerk Dr Dorian Gerhold describes how a deep-dive into the history of Victoria Tower Gardens may have preserved it for the future.
How you can help?
Write to Historic England asking for the park to be declared as Heritage At Risk until such time as the project is withdrawn: londonseast@HistoricEngland.org.uk
Write to your MP asking for a Public Accounts Committee hearing and for new proposal that does not seek to build on a park or other protected green space.