Government reaffirms support for National Holocaust Memorial despite new court setback

Court of Appeal rejects application to appeal against court order quashing planning permission


The proposed National Holocaust Memorial in Westminster has suffered another glitch after leave to appeal against a court order quashing planning permission to build it was rejected this week.

In April, the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation (UKHMF) lodged an appeal after a judge overturned planning permission for the £100 million memorial and learning centre.

But the Court of the Appeal has refused permission for the case to be heard.

The High Court had previously blocked the plans on the grounds that locating it in Victoria Tower Gardens would represent “exceptionally serious intrusion into a green public open space of the highest heritage significance”.

However, in Parliament on Thursday, the Faith Minister Paul Scully stressed that the government remained committed to the project - which was first proposed by a commission set up by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015.

Mr Scully told MPs, “We must build the new National Holocaust Memorial with its learning centre so that future generations can never doubt what happened because it is the only way we can be certain therefore that it never happens again”.

While the Appeal Court’s ruling this week was cause of “further disappointment”, he said that the government would study the court decisions carefully as “we consider our next steps but we can say that as well as the Prime Minister’s personal support, our commitment to Holocaust survivors remains strong”.

Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said “we are very disappointed by the court’s decision to refuse an appeal by UKHMF. Holocaust survivors deserve to see the memorial built in their lifetime. 

“A physical memorial next to Parliament would honour the six million Jewish people who were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. It would be a powerful statement about Britain’s commitment to commemorate and learn from the Holocaust and genocides of the past and would raise awareness about contemporary forms of antisemitism and prejudice. 

While some have argued that it is the right idea but in the wrong place, it is backed by the Chief Rabbi, the Board of Deputies and the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET). Over 50 sites were considered for the location of the building.

Karen Pollock, HET chief executive said: “Time is of the essence - Holocaust survivors are elderly, and their numbers are dwindling. They hope to see the opening of the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre standing next to Parliament in their lifetime.

“This Memorial will stand as a warning from history and show  what can happen when antisemitism and hate is left unchecked. This Memorial will stand as a reminder for generations to come, but there is no time to waste - we need to build this Memorial now.”

The UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, initially set to open in 2024, would commemorate the six million Jewish people murdered in the Holocaust, alongside Roma, gay people and disabled victims.

The Learning Centre is also intended to reflect on subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

One option is for the government to introduce legislation that will effectively remove the grounds on which the planned building has been blocked.

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