A National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre proposed for a site next to the Houses of Parliament contravenes planning rules on size, design and location, Westminster City Council has said.
The council fully supports the principle of a memorial and learning centre in central London, however the local authority’s planning committee voiced concerns over the current proposal to be located in Victoria Tower Gardens.
While the final decision on the application will be made by central Government following a public inquiry, a council planning said the current proposal was not appropriate for this location.
The issues raised include:
The potential impact on the important national heritage in the park and close by, such as existing monuments and the adjacent World Heritage site of the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.
The loss of valuable open, public green space in a very busy and popular location (with an estimated 3.6m visits per year) if the Memorial and Learning Centre were built in a park that is not large enough to host.
Environmental concerns such as the loss of trees or damage that may be caused to them by the new Memorial and Learning Centre.
Cllr Robert Rigby, Chairman of Planning, said:
“As a council we’re completely behind the principle of having a Memorial and Learning Centre in central London to commemorate those that lost their lives in the most heinous crimes of the 20th century. We must never let people forget the Holocaust and need to always educate future generations to stop it from ever happening again.
“We absolutely understand the emotion and the depth of feeling that this issue engenders, and we think it is right that the Secretary of State will make the final decision on this application. We will put our own and our residents’ views to him as part of the public inquiry that will inform their final decision.
“However, if it were Westminster City Council taking a decision on the application, it would have been refused on heritage grounds; the location in Victoria Tower Gardens, its size and design would cause considerable harm and would have a significant, detrimental impact on one of the few remaining green spaces on the Thames Embankment.
“We would have very likely accepted a proposal of much smaller scale in that park. But the issue is now in the Secretary of State’s hands to make the final decision and we will share the findings of the planning committee with him through the public inquiry.”
However the Government has expressed it’s complete dedication to the memorial, with Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick decrying the councils decision: “The naysayers on that project will not succeed,” said the minister.
“We will build that memorial. Let me promise you that.”