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Royal Parks objects to Holocaust memorial next to Parliament

Words: Huw Morris
Victoria Gardens

The body responsible for managing the site of a proposed national memorial to the Holocaust has objected to the scheme.

Westminster City Council is considering a planning application submitted in December for the National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens, which is next to the Houses of Parliament.

The £50 million scheme is designed by a team led by architects Adjaye Associates, with Ron Arad Architects as memorial architect, and Gustafson Porter + Bowman as landscape architect. Their proposal includes a structure of 23 large bronze fins with a learning centre developed underground and aims to create “a living place, not just a monument to something of the past”.

However, the Royal Parks has now objected to the proposal, citing the site’s “highly sensitive location in planning and heritage terms” and has written to the council setting out its criticisms.

“We fully support the principle of building a new Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, and agree with the rationale for doing so,” the Royal Parks said.

“However, as the charity managing Victoria Tower Gardens, our role is to ensure that the intrinsic qualities of this green space are protected for the benefit of all our visitors and, having studied the planning application in detail, we feel strongly that this is not the right location for it.

“The impact that the proposed structure will have on this much-loved public amenity space, in an area of central London with few public parks, is significant. Around 1.5 million visitors a year currently use Victoria Tower Gardens as a place for relaxation and recreation.

“We believe that the scale of the proposed building, and the congestion that the anticipated additional one million visitors will bring in its first year of operation, will dramatically change the park’s relaxed atmosphere and ambiance.

“It could also permanently damage the major trees that border the park and negatively impact the biodiversity of the space. We estimate that up to 15 per cent of the park’s open space could be lost for ever.”

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