Victoria Tower Gardens

Holocaust Memorial Plans Criticised Over Potential 'Harmful' Impact On London Park

A planning application for the memorial is currently being considered by Westminster City Council.

Victoria Tower Gardens

Picture: Victoria Tower Gardens overlooked by the Houses of Parliament.

Proposals for a Holocaust memorial outside the House of Parliament have been criticised for their potentially "harmful impact" on a central London Park.

The new landmark, which will also feature a learning centre, is planned for Victoria Tower Gardens on Millbank, alongside the River Thames.

It will be dedicated to the six million Jewish men, women and children and other victims murdered by the Nazis.

A planning application for the memorial is currently being considered by Westminster City Council.

But The Royal Parks, a charity which looks after the park, said it did not support the planning application "given the impact it will have on a popular public amenity space in an area of the capital with few public parks".

In a letter to Westminster City Council's planning team, The Royal Parks described the gardens as a "highly sensitive location in planning and heritage terms".

It said the small triangular green space is a Grade II Registered Park located next to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament - collectively designated as a World Heritage Site.

The Holocaust memorial's design features 23 large bronze fin structures that visitors can walk among, leading up to the underground learning centre.

Victoria Tower Gardens is next to the Houses of Parliament.
Victoria Tower Gardens is next to the Houses of Parliament.

The Royal Parks said it "strongly supports" the principle of the project but believes its scale and design would have "significant harmful impacts" on the "character and function" of the park.

The letter added: "The structure will dominate the park and eclipse the existing listed memorials which are nationally important in their own right.

"The gardens are public open space and we would not wish to close such a large area, or the possibility of the entire park, to visitors for the three years of its construction."

"Overall, the sombre nature of the memorial, the large structure and the necessary security measure... will change the nature of what is currently a relaxed park alongside a unique riverside location."

The charity also expressed concern that visitors would cause "queues and congestion".

More than 10,000 people have signed an online petition urging the Government to reconsider the memorial's location.

Architect Sir David Adjaye, who is leading the memorial's design, wrote in the Times newspaper on Saturday: "The concerns for the preservation of the park and its purpose are understandable and have been heard.

"We have no desire or intent to diminish the refuge and joy that this public place provides."

Westminster City Council said they cannot comment on "outstanding applications". 

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said the memorial would help honour and remember victims of genocides and "educate future generations on the importance of fighting prejudice".

She added "no location in Britain is more suitable for the Memorial than Victoria Tower Gardens" and that the proposals have been "developed with great sensitivity to the existing context and character of the Gardens".