London mayor Sadiq Khan has said he is ‘deeply concerned’ that Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects’ planned Holocaust Memorial will be rejected after a groundswell of opposition
Throwing his weight behind the controversial project, proposed for Victoria Tower Gardens in Westminster, Khan said the centre was ‘vital’ and would be a ‘national asset at the heart of our democracy next to Westminster Palace’.
In a statement, Khan said: ‘The National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre will be hugely important to London, and to the whole country.
’It will be a powerful symbol against all forms of hatred and teach our future generations about the fragility of peace, and where hatred and division can lead if left unchecked.’
It comes as Historic England became the latest influential consultee to join the chorus of disapproval over the proposal, arguing the memorial would have a ‘significant impact’ on the site’s heritage.
Opposition has also come from the UK branch of Icomos, UNESCO’s International Council on Monuments and Sites, as well as the charity that manages London’s royal parks and the Environment Agency.
The government-backed memorial project has also faced significant opposition from local residents, who argue the memorial will ‘destroy a treasured park’.
Save Victoria Gardens (SVTG) has led the campaign against the project, with 744 objections now lodged with Westminster’s planning authority, which will have the final say on whether the project goes ahead.
The campaigners described Historic England’s intervention as a ‘further blow’ to the scheme.
How many experts from top organisations will it take before the government listens?
Architect and spokesperson Barbara Weiss said: ‘How many experts from top organisations will it take before the government listens? The flaws of packing this large museum into a tiny park will not go away.’
The plans have also met with opposition from Jewish parliamentarians, with eight Jewish peers all voicing opposition.
However 174 MPs and peers have signed a letter in support of the proposal. They included Kindertransport refugee and Labour peer Alf Dubs and Luciana Berger, the Jewish MP for Liverpool Wavertree.
UK Holocaust memorial charities, including the Holocaust Educational Trust and Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, have also backed the project, while a letter of support has been sent from rabbis of nine Westminster synagogues.
The design for the government-backed project includes 23 bronze fins, an entrance pavilion and an underground learning centre which will aim to improve visitors’ understanding of the Holocaust and its impact on Britain.
The UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation has said the memorial would ‘provoke and challenge’ visitors to think about the impact of the Holocaust on our society, culture and Parliament.
FINAL: Designs for Adjaye Associates’ Holocaust Memorial in Westminster