Government submits revised plans for Westminster Holocaust memorial

Government submits revised plans for Westminster Holocaust memorial

Communities department's new proposal comes in the wake of opposition and criticism from 'Save Victoria Tower Gardens' campaign

Front View of the chosen design for the Holocaust memorial
Front View of the chosen design for the Holocaust memorial

The Government has submitted revised plans for a Holocaust memorial and learning centre opposite parliament, following criticism from heritage groups.

The UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation has had to rethink its proposal for its £100m project in Victoria Tower Gardens in Westminster, it was announced this week.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said it submitted “revised plans to Westminster City Council following a comprehensive public consultation and discussion with local residents, Holocaust experts, survivors, Westminster City Council, Historic England, Royal Parks and other statutory consultees.

“This is a standard practice following a public consultation and the revised plans take on the concerns raised by local residents and statutory consultees.”

In a letter from the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation’s Head of the Secretariat, Sally Sealey, to Westminster council, the key changes include a revised design for the entrance pavilion, for the entrance courtyard and surrounding landscaping, a reduced basement footprint and changes to associated technical documents as a result of the design changes.

This comes in the wake of opposition from the ‘save Victoria Tower Gardens’ campaign, which highlighted the “severe criticism” of the plans from organisations including The Royal Parks, which oversees Victoria Tower Gardens, as well as UNESCO and heritage organisation Historic England.

Architect Barbara Weiss, who helps run the Save Victoria Tower Gardens group said: “the consequences of a re-submission will cause massive delays, cost a fortune in terms of taxpayers’ money for abortive work, and create havoc for everyone involved.”

“This complete failure to think through the first application is a clear consequence of the lack of listening that has been the hallmark of this ill-fated project. It has indeed been said, over and over again, that building underground, and trying to shoe-horn an ambitious public brief within a tree-lined, small, historic park adjacent to a listed river wall, could only lead to tears”.

Earlier in April, while speaking at Jewish Care, Communities secretary James Brokenshire backed the plans, saying: “Having it located slap bang next door to the House of Commons underlines that sense of connection, the role of government and how we must not just reflect but also learn and apply the lessons of the Holocaust.

“This is something for our nation. It’s not just for London. It’s not for Westminster.”

He added that there was a “personal connection” because of his father, who was assisted out of Germany by British spy, Frank Foley.

In February, than 150 MPs signed a letter in support of the proposal saying it will “stand as a testimony” to fighting hatred.

Written by co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Holocaust Memorial, MPs Ian Austin and Bob Blackman, signatories numbered 171 MPs and peers. They included from the Conservatives: Dominic Raab, Nicky Morgan and Robert Halfon, as well as Labour’s Emily Thornberry, Yvette Cooper, Barry Gardiner and Lord Dubs, as well as the Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford and Green MP Caroline Lucas.

Architect Sir David Adjaye is leading the memorial’s design team alongside Ron Arad Architects as Memorial Architect, and Gustafson Porter + Bowman as Landscape Architect.

The Holocaust Educational Trust is the secretariat for the APPG.

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