Bid to block plans for Westminster Holocaust Memorial to be considered by High Court

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Bid to block plans for Westminster Holocaust Memorial to be considered by High Court

London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust expects judges to review their appeal against the proposal next to Parliament, with campaigners calling it the 'right idea in the wrong place'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Proposed design of Westminster Holocaust Memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens
Proposed design of Westminster Holocaust Memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens

An appeal to block plans for a UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre to be built next to the Houses of Parliament reaches the High Court on Tuesday.

The London Historic Parks are Gardens Trust and the Save Victoria Tower Gardens groups are among those contesting the plan, which is costing over £100m.

Helen Monger, Director of The Trust said in a statement:“London’s parks give everyone space to reflect, relax and play – they should not be built on, but protected. UK Holocaust education and this historic environment deserve better than this scheme.”

Two concerns set to be raised in the High Court, in an appeal expected to last two days, are a challenge to the evaluation the harm to caused to a memorial commemorating the 1834 Abolition of Slavery, along with a questioning over whether proper consideration was given to using the Imperial War Museum as an alternative site.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick (right), holocaust survivor Sir Ben Helfgott and his grandson Reuben at Victoria Gardens in Westminster, London, celebrating the go-ahead being given to a Holocaust memorial. Picture date: Thursday July 29, 2021.

Opening in 2024, the centre, if built, is intended to be the focal point for national remembrance of the six million Jewish men, women and children murdered in the Holocaust and all other victims of Nazi persecution.

It is also meant to provide a place for reflection on “subsequent genocides”.

The Government has confirmed that the Holocaust memorial will be free “in perpetuity” to visitors when it opens, putting it on the same footing as the UK’s most significant museums and monuments.

Planning permission for the memorial and learning centre was granted in July after then-planning minister Chris Pincheraccepted a recommendation made by an inquiry.

Forner Housing and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick had championed the case for the memorial alongside the UK’s Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Lord Eric Pickles and former Labour minister Ed Balls.More than 170 MPs and peers also voiced support for the memorial, including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who described the project as “vital”.

But Lucy Peck, from the Save Victoria Tower Gardens campaign, added: “This ill-conceived scheme has been steamrollered through by the Government without proper consultation and will irreparably damage one of the iconic views of London.”

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