Victoria Tower Gardens Update - November 2017

by London Parks & Gardens Trust, Planning and Conservation Working Group

Readers of London Landscapes will recall that the Trust's Planning Working Group had submitted early objections to proposals for a new Holocaust Memorial Centre being built at Victoria Tower Gardens. See previous article. The reasons included the scale of the Centre in a Memorial Saturation Zone, overpowering one of the last few public green spaces giving access to the river. The views from the Trust were elicited as the organizers behind the new memorial announced a public competition for selection of an architect, with public comment invited. The winner of the competition for the new memorial scheme, which features a 2,650sqm subterranean Learning Centre, has just been announced.

In the week preceding this news, an announcement by the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in the Architects' Journal (13 October) observed that the proposed memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens next to the Palace of Westminster would 'divide the public offer' on learning about the Holocaust. In a recent statement the Department for Communities and Local Government, which is funding the Holocaust Memorial Foundation, remained supportive of the Victoria Tower Gardens Scheme, stating that the new Learning Centre will have complementary aims. Nonetheless, the IWM is one of a growing number of organisations opposing the proposals. However, subject to planning permission, the intention is to build this monument with 23 bronze finials above ground, designed by Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects, by 2021.

The Trust has been working with Save Victoria Tower Gardens, co-founded by Barbara Weiss, who have called on the government to reconsider the site for the memorial. Barbara Weiss, whose father fled to the UK as an Italian Jewish refugee in 1939, summed up the opposition: 'Our argument is purely one of the fact that we don't approve of building in parks generally. It's nothing to do with the Holocaust Memorial.'

The Trust will continue to monitor this and awaits further developments. Meanwhile the Planning Working Group is looking at the latest consultation on environment by the Mayor's Office, due for response on 17 November, as well as commenting on a host of other planning applications. If you are interested in joining our group, please do contact the office: we receive weekly lists requiring projects to be reviewed that may have an impact on parks and gardens across London.

Victoria Tower Gardens
Victoria Tower Gardens (© Sally Prothero)

“The London Parks & Gardens Trust would warmly welcome the construction of a new Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre. We do, however, urge the Government and the Holocaust Memorial Foundation to urgently reconsider the current proposed location.”