Judge grants permission to appeal Westminster Holocaust memorial decision

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Judge grants permission to appeal Westminster Holocaust memorial decision

Mrs Justice Lieven granted the London Historic Parks And Gardens Trust the chance to apply for a review of the governments decision to build a Shoah memorial and learning centre, which will be built in Victoria Tower Gardens near Parliament

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

A High Court judge has granted permission to appeal the Government’s decision to build a Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster.

In an order made  in the High Court  Queen’s Bench Division Planning Court, Mrs Justice Lieven granted permission to the London Historic Parks And Gardens Trust to apply for a Planning Statutory Review.

Judge Lieven confirmed the charitable organisation’s appeal had been granted on two out of five possible grounds.

The first matter involved technicalities over the planning inspector’s decision for agreeing that the project should go ahead in Westminster – while the other issue deemed to be “arguable” by the judge, was whether the Holocaust Memorial could have been alternatively located at the Imperial War Museum. (IMW).

Last Friday’s Order states:”Ground Four is arguable. Although the Inspector did consider the IWM as an alternative location, the way that he has done so effectively places the burden on the objector to produce a “detailed scheme”, which would in practice be almost impossible to discharge.”

On 29 July 2021 the Minister for Housing, Mr Christopher Pincher MP gave approval for the construction of the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre within Victoria Tower Gardens. 

Former Housing and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, who recused himself from the decision after publicly backing the plans, was subjected to antisemitic abuse and threats over the issue.

After July’s announcement, the London Historic Parks And Gardens Trust said it was “appalled by this decision which sets a dangerous precedent for preserving open space and protecting heritage landscapes within the planning process. ”

Save Victoria Gardens, another group that campaigned against the proposal, has argued that open space in the area should be protected as a local amenity, and that the need for security would add to congestion. 

The crossbench peer Ruth Deech, whose father fled the Nazis, said the decision was divisive. “Last autumn’s public inquiry raised serious concerns about the plans’ impact on heritage and a valuable public park, as well as raising issues of flood risk, security and damage to mature trees.

“We passionately believe that the Holocaust should be remembered, but we believe that this ill-considered and damaging proposal will do a disservice to victims and survivors, and little to enhance understanding and respect.”

Construction of the memorial is expected to begin next year and be completed by 2025.

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