Local councillors are delighted to report that earlier today, the High Court upheld the judicial review, brought by the London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust, against the decision to approve planning permission for the National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in the much loved Victoria Tower Gardens.
The review was supported by the Thorney Island Society and the Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign and your local Conservative councillors have strongly backed local campaigners. This is a substantial setback to the process to build the memorial in the gardens, work on which was due to start later this year.
Local Conservative councillors have always supported the principle of a memorial and learning centre in central London but think that Victoria Tower Gardens is the wrong place for a memorial of this size.
We agree with local people that the valued facilities of the gardens would be lost if the memorial went ahead.
Alongside multiple representations by local people, including a speech by St James’s Councillor Mark Shearer and Vincent Square Councillor David Harvey, Westminster City Council’s Planning Committee agreed in February 2020 that the application should be refused. This was on the grounds that the memorial contravened planning rules on size, design and location. However, the decision to approve the memorial was taken out of the Council’s hands when the Minister of State “called in” the decision.
Westminster City Council’s Planning Committee’s opinion stated that the memorial would harm the significance of Victoria Tower Gardens including the setting of the Grade II* Buxton Memorial. This became one of the core pillars of the London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust case before the High Court.
The Council’s Planning Committee was also concerned about the potential damage to trees in the area. As such, at the urging of your Conservative ward councillors, the Council looked at new ways to emphasise the importance of the gardens, by recently making a Tree Preservation Order for the park’s 51 London plane trees and one oak tree which will help protect these much-loved green assets, whatever happens in the gardens.
Your local councillors will continue to monitor the legal process closely, which may now proceed to the Court of Appeal. We will continue to support local people who want to retain Victoria Tower Gardens as treasured open space for recreation and relaxation, while lobbying government to find a more appropriate location for this much-needed and long-overdue memorial.