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Campaigners win High Court bid to stop Parliament Holocaust memorial

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ampaigners have won a High Court bid to quash planning permission for a national Holocaust memorial outside Parliament.

The London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust is opposed to a new UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre being built in Victoria Tower Gardens, a small triangular Grade II-listed park next to Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster.

The charity had branded the move “the right idea” in the “wrong place”, claiming the planning permission process was flawed.

At a hearing in February, the trust focused its arguments on the evaluation of alternative sites and the impact the development may have on the heritage setting, including the Buxton Memorial which celebrates the abolition of slavery. Government ministers opposed the trust’s legal challenge.

Richard Drabble QC, representing the trust, also claimed that plans did not comply with a 1900 legal act affecting park land, which imposed “a prohibition on using Victoria Tower Gardens as anything other than a garden open to the public”.

In her ruling, Mrs Justice Thornton said the trust’s challenge had succeeded in relation to the legislation.

She noted that the act “imposes an enduring obligation” to retain land “as a public garden and integral part of the existing Victoria Tower Gardens”.

However, she highlighted that all those involved in the court case “support the principle of a compelling memorial to the victims of the Holocaust and all those persecuted by the Nazis during those years when, ‘humanity was tipped into the abyss of evil and depravity’”.

The memorial had been due to open in 2024 and sought to be a focal point for national remembrance of the six million Jewish men, women and children murdered in the Holocaust.

It would also have provided a place for reflection on “subsequent genocides”.

Lawyers for the Government argued that there was “no error of law” in the decision-making process and that policy had not been “misinterpreted or misapplied”.

Ministers had previously “called in” the decision in November 2019 rather than have it determined by the local authority – Westminster City Council.

Campaigners claimed the memorial’s proposed location risks affecting the park “irrevocably” and previously raised concerns over the alleged impact on local trees, potential flooding, and heritage monuments.

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