Holocaust Memorial, Victoria Tower Gardens
The public inquiry to determine the planning application for a Holocaust Memorial at Victoria Tower Gardens is due to begin today (6 October), following last November’s call in by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. As part of the decision making process, the Secretary of State will weigh the harm identified by us and other organisations against the public benefits of the proposals.
We support having a UK Holocaust Memorial, however we believe that the proposals in this location would cause harm to the significance of the historic Victoria Tower Gardens, the listed Buxton Memorial, and the Westminster Abbey and Parliament Square Conservation Area.
The plans would have a significant impact on the heritage of this relatively small site. Introducing a series of large structures to the Grade II registered park would fundamentally change its character. The proposals would also have a detrimental impact on the significance of the Grade II* listed Buxton Memorial by encroaching on its setting and diminishing its prominence.
Important archaeological remains are expected to survive under Victoria Tower Gardens. The construction of a substantial basement would inevitably harm these remains so we have recommended archaeological investigation if construction is approved.
We are also concerned about the impact on the mature trees that are fundamental to the park. We have advised Westminster City Council to seek further evaluation, amendments and safeguards from the applicant before determining the application.
We believe the proposals represent harm to the historic environment, but less than substantial harm. This does not mean that the harm is acceptable if the public benefits are insufficient.
We welcomed the proposed reduced footprint of the learning centre and design changes made in April 2019, but these amendments did not address the many other issues that we had previously raised. Our overall position therefore remains the same.
6 October 2020