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McVey calls in Holocaust Memorial

Words: Huw Morris
Victoria Gardens

Housing minister Esther McVey has called in the proposed Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre next to parliament before Westminster City Council could take a decision.

The memorial, designed by architects David Adjaye and Ron Arad, is planned for Victoria Tower Gardens on Millbank, alongside the River Thames. The scheme has provoked considerable controversy, with the vast majority of submissions to Westminster opposing the scheme.

Royal Parks, the charity which looks after the gardens, did not support the application for its impact on “a popular public amenity space in an area of the capital with few public parks”. More than 10,000 people also signed an online petition urging the government to reconsider the memorial’s location.

However London mayor Sadiq Khan called on Westminster to approve the plans, arguing this would make a “powerful national statement” and show commitment to fighting intolerance.

Lord Pickles, who co-chairs the new memorial foundation, tweeted that he was “delighted that [McVey] has ‘called in’ the planning application,” adding that both he and co-chair Ed Balls “agree… that the decision should be taken nationally”. Both had written to housing and communities secretary Robert Jenrick asking for the move.

“We have no doubt that Westminster City Council will consider the application in a professional and impartial manner,” the two former MPs said. “Yet the level of national interest suggests to us that it would not be appropriate or reasonable to expect the local authority to determine this planning application.”

The council said it is awaiting further information from the Planning Inspectorate on the proposed call in process and “will play our part as necessary”.

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