On 29 July 2021 the Minister for Housing, Mr Christopher Pincher MP gave approval for the construction of the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre within Victoria Tower Gardens. The Trust is appalled by this decision which sets a dangerous precedent for preserving open space and protecting heritage landscapes within the planning process.
We are publishing our correspondence and keeping a Record of Events if you want to find out more.
Victoria Tower Garden, a unique Grade 2 public park 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 Trust has prepared a Statement of Significance about the site to elaborate on the Inventory entry.
The proposal to create a UK Holocaust Memorial was originally suggested in 2016 without consultation on site selection. In 2017 the proposal to build this monument and an underground Learning Centre at Victoria Tower Gardens was submitted to Westminster City Council.
The Trust brought a Judicial Review case against the Secretary of State to the High Court because of concerns over the handling arrangements including the Secretary of State chosing to delegate to his Minister for Housing the final decision on this application. The High Court Judgment found that the Government had failed to provide the Trust with legal certainty by omitting to publish full handling arrangements in good time but did not support the main concern that a junior minister would make the final decision in this case.
The Trust was also a Rule 6 Party objector at the Planning Inquiry which took place from 6th October to 6th November 2020 submitting evidence.
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 Trust has written 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 and await their response.
The Trust is reviewing options for mounting another legal challenge about the decision which ignores significant planning policy intended to protect historic parks and open space.
How you can help?
Write to your MP asking for a parliamentary inquiry.
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