Hundreds object to proposed Westminster Holocaust memorial over scenery fears

Hundreds of people object to proposed Westminster Holocaust memorial claiming it would 'kill' the views of Parliament

Artist's impression of Holocaust learning centre proposed for Victoria Tower Gardens. Image: Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Hundreds of people have objected to a proposed Holocaust memorial near the Palace of Westminster claiming there are already enough statues and it will ruin the view.

The government wants to build a £50m monument and exhibition centre dedicated to the six million Jewish people murdered in the Holocaust and other victims of the Nazis.

The memorial would be made up of 23 'fins' - thin, tall bronze walls - which would create pathways visitors could walk along to get to a learning centre.

But locals claim Victoria Tower Gardens is not the right location, and more than 300 have submitted objections in just four weeks.



Among the objections are complaints the area is already "saturated" with monuments, the design is in "painful contrast" to the surroundings.

The Save the Tower Gardens Campaign also launched a petition against the plans that has been signed by 10,715 people.

The park has a Rodin sculpture, a statue of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and the Buxton Memorial Fountain to commemorate the abolition of slavery.

The proposed memorial is due to open in 2022 if Westminster City Council grants planning permission.

In a letter of objection submitted to the council, one local said: "Westminster is already a saturation zone for statues and monuments and by crowding so many together the importance of each is diluted within the general mass.

"It is pointless to therefore add more within the limited confines of this park, especially one of the size of the proposed Holocaust memorial, which will totally overshadow all the others."


'This proposal will kill the wonderful views'

Petition calling for the Holocaust memorial to be built on another site. 

Locals also raised concerns it could "kill" the views of the Houses of Parliament.

One resident from Smith Square, said: "My wife and I have lived in Smith Square for 40 years and visit the Victoria Tower Gardens frequently.

"The gardens are enjoyed by an enormous range of people of all ages.

"The proposed Memorial and learning centre would transform and destroy the nature of the area.

"The proposal is deliberately brutalist in its design and would be in painful contrast with its surroundings."



Another person posted: "The massing of this proposal will kill the wonderful views from Lambeth Bridge to the Houses of Parliament.

"It will also appear as a highly visible intrusion from the opposite Lambeth Embankment, and from the river."

Another person, commented: "The proposed monument and building would block protected views of Parliament and irreparably change the character of the gardens.

"It would most certainly damage or destroy trees and pave or build over grass areas, to the detriment of the environment.

"The planned memorial and centre are out of keeping with the nearby buildings and would dominate the space.

"The existing Buxton memorial fountain, Burghers of Calais, Emmeline Pankhurst statue and restored Spicer memorial are all human scale and would be overshadowed and diminished by the huge structures."


'No other site has the power or significance'

People enjoying the sun in Victoria Tower Gardens.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government submitted the planning application for the project to Westminster City Council on December 19.

The final design features 23 'fins' and spaces between each symbolising the 22 countries where Jewish people were targeted during the Holocaust.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said the design will help the memorial integrate with the surroundings.

Nine rabbis have written to Westminster City Council to show their support for the memorial.

In a joint letter, they defended the location, and added: "We firmly believe no other site has the power and significance of a site next to Parliament."

The UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation agreed and a spokesperson added: “The proposals have been developed with great sensitivity to the existing context and character of the Gardens – we will retain 93% of the open public space, improve views over Parliament and the river Thames and provide a range of accessible seating and a new boardwalk along the embankment.”