Appeal on Victoria Tower Gardens

Proposed development on Victoria Tower Gardens

The fight for Victoria Tower Gardens goes on. London Gardens Trust (LGT) has been granted permission by the High Court to pursue its appeal against the Minister of Housing’s decision, following an inquiry before a Planning Inspector, to approve construction of the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens.

Permission to appeal was granted for a full hearing to consider the following points –

  • The correct legal way of evaluating harm to a heritage asset.
  • Whether the Planning Inspector was right to require objectors to come up with detailed proposals for alternative locations – which the judge thinks put them into “an almost impossible position”.

Appeal relevant to planning system in general

Both are points of importance not only in relation the Victoria Tower Gardens but to the planning system in general. It is to be hoped that the appeal will provide the opportunity for judges to give guidance which will be of value for the future in relation to sensitive applications which may harmfully affect heritage assets including our parks and gardens.

The Gardens Trust, in its role as statutory consultee, had recommended that the proposal to site the Holocaust Memorial on Victoria Tower Gardens be refused, and the Planning Committee of the local authority, the Westminster City Council, unanimously refused consent on the grounds of the damage to part, the setting of the listed buildings and its status as a World Heritage Site. The Government then ‘called in the decision’ and the application was referred to a planning inquiry.

The inspector recognised that his decision was finely balanced but in the end came down in favour of the proposal rather than the potential alternative site at the Imperial War Museum.

The Gardens Trust welcomes the initiative taken by LGT and the opportunity which the judicial review will now provide for this highly contentious proposal to be further considered and for clarification to be given on the wider issues that the case raises.

London Gardens Trust

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Painswick Roccoco Gardens, the Red House, Photo © Joab Smith