Record of Events

21/07/22 Urgent Debate called in Parliament

In the light of the Court of Appeal refusal Sir Peter Bottomley calls an urgent debate before Parliament closes for the summer recess. Robert Jenrick MP and others request that the Government seek new legislation to overturn the judgment and proceed with the project when they return in the autumn. The full transcript of the debate is in Hansard. London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust will continue to lobby and monitor the situation.

20/07/22 The Court of Appeal refuses the Government’s request for a hearing to quash the High Court Judgment

The Right Hon. Lady Justice Andrews DBE issues her judgment concluding that there is no real prospect of successfully arguing that Mrs Justice Thornton’s construction of the 1900 Act was plainly correct. The High Court’s ruling is therefore maintained and the project can no longer proceed legally.

5/07/22 NAO Report finds major flaws in the procurement and governance of the project by DLUHC (formerly MHCLG)

The National Audit Office (NAO) completes their report on why the DLUHC is set up to manage the programme; maximising the impact and emerging risks to cost and schedule given the failed delivery to date. The report finds major flaws to the project procurement to day; governance; and future delivery with significant cost increases.

23/05/22 The Trust submits pleadings against the Government’s request for an Appeal Hearing

The Trust’s legal counsel submit a series of arguments for why the permission to appeal should be refused.

29/04/22 Government Legal Department seeks permission in the Court of Appeal

The Government Legal Department submits a request for a hearing in the Court of Appeal to challenge the High Court judgment and seeking to overturn the decision to get the project back on track. There are two requests – one from the Minister of Housing; the other from the Secretary of State.

08/04/22 The High Court quashes the planning permission

Mrs Justice Thornton in her judgment finds that the claim succeeds on the grounds that the London County Council (Improvements) Act 1900 [the 1900 Act] imposes statutory protection of the park; 

“The appropriate remedy is to quash the decision, so as to enable further consideration of the implications of the 1900 Act.   It is an Act of Parliament which specifically regulates Victoria Tower Gardens and specifies that the land must be retained for use as a public garden.“ 

05/04/22 Historic England refusing at this stage to put the park on the Heritage at Risk Register

Historic England states “Given the ongoing legal proceedings relating to the UK Holocaust Memorial Fund scheme we consider it would be premature to make a decision on the status of the gardens at this stage. We would be willing to re-visit the question after the outcome of that legal process”.

09/03/22 The Trust writes to Historic England to seek Heritage At Risk status for the Park

Part of the Trust’s request explains the construction is insensitive to the park’s historic design as an open space for relaxation.  It will put at risk the health of at least 2 mature plane trees endangering the historic avenue which frames the park and gives it structure. There is huge uncertainty about the future of the park and how it will be managed and how much will be closed off to the public making the site highly vulnerable.

Previously, the Trust wrote to Historic England on 8th February seeking inclusion of the Buxton Memorial Fountain on the Heritage at Risk register. Historic England declined explaining that for buildings not designed to be occupied, the assessment is based on condition only and the trend – improving or deteriorating. The formal criteria for assessing whether a building is at risk do not take into consideration the setting of the building. 

04/03/22 Notice of Tree Protection Order by local council

Westminster City Council, concerned by the proposals issue a Tree Protection Order

22/02/22 and 23/02/22 Hearing held at the High Court

The London Gardens Trust (The Trust) appeared in the High Court in front of Mrs Justice Thornton to appeal against the planning decision.  The Trust was represented by Richard Drabble QC, Meyric Lewis, and Richard Buxton Solicitors. Against the Trust were a QC, Junior Barrister and solicitor for each of the following: The Secretary of State as applicant for the proposals; the Minister for Housing as the decision maker for this project; and the Learning from the Righteous.

Prior to the Court Proceedings the Trust submitted the following papers. There were additional pleadings submitted. The Judgment is awaited.

08/02/22 Pleadings lodged at the High Court

In a final flurry of documentation, with pleadings and witness statements the Trust is now set to attend the High Court on 22nd and 23rd February 2022. All are welcome to watch from the public viewing galleries at the High Court on the Strand.

The Trust is grateful to historian and researcher Dr Dorian Gerhold for tracking down the records of debates and other documentation that led to the creation of this park. This historical information and the timeline for the creation of the park form part of the Trust’s evidence in support of its case for the 1900 Act.

3/12/21 Secretary of State and Minister for Housing submit their detailed Grounds of Resistance

The Secretary of State (now Mr Gove) for the Department for Levelling Up, Communities and Housing (DLUCH, previously MHCLG) as Applicant for the scheme submits his Grounds for Resistance. A different legal team acting for the Minister for Housing also submits Mr Pincher’s grounds for Resistance.

26/11/21 LGT asks WCC to delay approval of Planning Conditions

LGT notified by the Gardens Trust’s weekly list that the UKHMF has submitted a number of items to resolve planning conditions in anticipation of starting works in the park at the earliest opportunity. Decisions are anticipated prior to the court case judgment including tree root cutting,. The LGT writes to WCC to delay giving approval for works in the park and raising concerns about the flooding risks made more likely by increasing the amount of hardstanding in the park.

29/10/21 High Court grants permission to appeal

LGT is granted permission by the High Court to appeal against the Minister of Housing’s decision to approve construction of the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens. Mrs Justice Lieven’s Court Order is here.

05/10/21 LGT responds to arguments by Minister and Secretary of State

The Trust replies to the summary of defence by the Minister of Housing and other supporters in front of the Court. The judgment of whether the Court considers the case arguable and a date are awaited.

30/09/21 SOS issues Grounds to Challenge and shares with LGT late

On 27th September the Secretary of State also submits a challenge but fails to notify the Trust until 30th September. The Secretary of State demands an urgent hearing arguing there is no case to answer.

27/09/21 Minister submits Grounds of Resistance to the Courts

The Minister as defendant in the case submit their response to the Trust’s Claim.

24/09/21 Learning for the Righteous seeks active role in Court

The Learning for the Righteous submit papers to the High Court. They are an interested party supporting Government, making representations about the need for the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre at Victoria Tower Gardens. Their full submission is here. The arguments put forward do not focus on the core concerns of the Trust.

07/09/21 LGT issues Claim in High Court to avoid being timed out

The Trust submits papers to the High Court seeking legal redress as the Government has refused to respond to any of its requests submitted on 22nd August. There are five grounds presented to the court focussing on the protection of historic landscapes, and the need to address a previous Act of Parliament.

06/09/21 Minister responds to PAP

The Minister for procedural reasons delays giving response until the last minute. The letter available here refuses to disclose the requested information and declines to withdraw the decision.

22/08/21 LGT issues Pre-Application Protocol Letter (PAP)

The Trust issues a Pre-application Protocol (PAP) letter, despite being under no obligation to do so in order to seek Government withdrawal from this project and new information. The letter available here gives details of the grounds of a potential claim in the Hight Court.

29/07/21 Minister releases his decision giving approval for construction to go ahead.

Christopher Pincher MP, Minister for Housing issued his decision, supported by recommendations from the Planning Inspector. The full report is available here. The Trust is considering whether to Appeal the decision with lawyers within the next 6 weeks.

1/02/21 Information Commissioner’s Office Tribunal Judgment blocks the release of information

The judgement is available here. An Appeal has been launched.

7/01/21 Information Commissioner’s Office Tribunal considers case brought by fellow Rule 6 objector seeking release of information by the Government

Dorian Gerhold a fellow Rule 6 objector and author of a history on Victoria Tower Gardens submits a case seeking release of information he had requested under the Freedom of Information Act. Previously the Government had refused to release information about the meetings which decided the location of the Memorial at Victoria Tower Gardens contrary to previous professional searches. His statement is available here.

6/10/20 to 13/11/20 (16 sitting days) Virtual Planning Inquiry takes place with London Gardens Trust as a Rule 6 objector

The London Gardens Trust was represented by legal counsel, Meyric Lewis, alongside other fellow Rule 6 objectors; The Thorney Island Society, Save Victoria Tower Gardens, and Baroness Deech. On behalf of the Trust Sally Prothero, Chair of the London Gardens Trust Planning and Conservation Working Group, submitted a proof of evidence; and Hal Moggridge, Patron of the Trust also submitted a proof of evidence. As leading witnesses they were both cross-examined on their evidence. A plethora of other valuable contributions were submitted from a variety of Interested Parties and witnesses. One of the Interested Parties was Dr David Lambert, who wrote a submission on behalf of the Gardens Trust and then gave oral evidence about the importance of Historic landscape and its protections. Meyric Lewis on behalf of the Trust provided a Closing Statement explaining that the proposals will irreversibly change and substantially harm the character of the consciously designed Grade II Registered Park and Garden. “They would turn a calm green garden space into a cluttered, visually and physically congested and urbanised “landscape” to the substantial detriment of its special amenity and character”. The Trust now awaits the recommendation of the Planning Inspector who is currently anticipated to submit his report to the Secretary of State by the end of April 2021. 

2/10/20: High Court Judgment finds Government’s Handling Arrangements should have been published and did not provide sufficient legal certainty.

The full Judgment is here. LGT feels vindicated in having taken this to the High Court but unfortunately this does not rule out the Minister for Housing taking the final decision. We submitted a request to the Court of Appeal to challenge this decision but were refused leave. We maintain that it can not be right for the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government as Applicant to nominate their own decision-maker and one of their junior ministers as an independent arbitrator in this case.

9/9/20 and 10/9/20: The Trust appears in the High Court as the Claimant in a Judicial Review

An article summarising the case by Joshua Rosenberg is available here. The Trust’s ability to take the case to the courts was courtesy of generous benefactors and the many donors from our Crowdjustice campaign. A Planning Inquiry is scheduled to start in early October.

18/5/20: The Government Legal Department responds to the Trust and refuses again to reconsider the process for an impartial decision

The Government Legal Department’s letter stresses that they disagree with the Trust’s views over conflict of interest and intend to continue with the current decision-making arrangements, reserving their right to overrule any recommendation by the Planning Inspector.

11/5/20: The Trust writes to the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government and the Minister for Housing

The Trust explains it is unsatisfied with the response and sets out its full rational for considering a Judicial Review of the process.

16/4/20: The Government Legal Department responds refusing the Trust’s request

The Government Legal Department’s letter refuses the Trust’s request and argues there is no bias or concerns over the procedure. By refusing the Trust’s request, the Government has forced a 6 week timetable to seek legal remedy from the High Court.

31/3/20: LPGT writes to the Minister of Housing to seek an independent decision-maker

At the pre-planning inquiry meeting, the Trust is informed that the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government is seeking to retain the final decision-making potentially overuling the recommendations of the Planning Inspector. The Trust asks the Minister of Housing to provide an independent alternative.

2/20 Presentation to Westminster City Council

Our presentation to Westminster City Council

11/2/20: Westminster City Council’s Planning Committee unanimously agrees to refuse planning permission for this project.

This was in the light of numerous presentations including from the Trust. Our Chair of Planning spoke at the meeting – read her speech

11/20: Update from LPGT

Victoria Tower Gardens Update

6/11/19: UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre called in without a decision from Westminster City Council

Westminster City Council Planning Committee had been expected to discuss the application two months ago amid intense lobbying for and against it but the date was put back.  Then on 6th November just as the Government was being prorogued an MHCLG spokesperson announced that: ’The housing minister [Esther McVey] has used powers under Section 77 of the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act to call-in the planning application for the United Kingdom Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre.

’A public inquiry will be held and overseen by an independent planning inspector. The minister will make the final decision on the application taking into account the inspector’s recommendation.’

6/2/19: LPGT submits objection to the Victoria Tower Gardens planning application

The Trust has now submitted its objection to the UK Holocaust Memorial proposals. You can download our full objection letter including plans and read the conservation and significance statement online. To submit your own objection, please visit the Westminster Council Planning site – you can read the guidelines online

4/2/19: LPGT calculations show that 26.9% of grass will be lost in the Gardens

The Trust’s planning group has calculated that, while 7.1% of the park will be taken up by the Memorial, entrance pavilion and courtyard, the total amount of grass area that would be lost is 26.9%. This figure does not include any additional areas of grass that might end up fenced off due to safety concerns at a later date.

View the plan to see how recreational green space will be affected by the development. 

22/1/19: How to ensure your objection relates to planning matters

The Save Victoria Tower Gardens campaign team has published guidelines on some of the planning issues you might like to consider if you submit an objection to the application via the Westminster Council Planning site – you can read the guidelines online. Comments don’t have to be long, but they should mention one or more planning-related issues.

18/1/19: Details from Baroness Deech’s Parliamentary Questions, December 2018

The following question was posed to Parliament (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government National Holocaust Memorial Centre and Learning Service) by Baroness Deech on 14 December 2018:

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the estimated cost of (1) building, and (2) running the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre; and how these costs will be met.”

It was answered by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth on 20 December 2018: 

“The estimated cost of building the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre is £102 million (including VAT). Future running costs are estimated to be around £5 – 6 million per annum. In 2015, the Government committed £50 million to the cost of establishing the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre. It is also the intention that further contributions towards the costs will come from a national fundraising effort. Options for providing future financial support are being explored and a sustainable long-term plan will be put in place.”

15/1/19: Public Meetings planned by Save Victoria Tower Gardens for 22 January

The Trust has been working with local groups concerned about the proposals, and they are holding an open meeting on Tuesday 22 January from 6.30 to 9pm in the church at St Matthew’s Westminster, 20 Great Peter Street, London SW1P 2BU. All are welcome. 

9/1/19: News on the Trust’s Freedom of Information request

The Trust made contact with the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government seeking the results of an Arboricultural Survey which were not disclosed at the time of public consultation, but which would have enabled a better gauge on the full heritage impacts particularly of the Root Protection Area. MHCLG failed to provide the information in a timely fashion in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, and so the Trust Director has reported the matter to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

July 2017 Statement from LPGT following Architectural Competition

Public parks under threat – Victoria Tower Gardens