1/02/21 Information Commissioner’s Office Tribunal Judgment blocks the release of information
The judgement is available here. An Appeal is being launched at the moment. We’ll update you with further news when we have it.
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.
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
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
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.