Opinion

Why London's Holocaust Memorial Is In The Wrong Place

Why London's Holocaust Memorial Is In The Wrong Place

This article is a response to Why London Needs A Holocaust Memorial and is written by the Save Victoria Tower Gardens campaign.

Victoria Tower Gardens. Photo: Ian Wylie

The Save Victoria Tower Gardens campaign fully supports the position that London needs a more conspicuous memorial to the Holocaust than the existing one in Hyde Park, poignant as that is. We just think it's in the wrong place.

To build anything in a public park should be the subject of an open democratic debate. Our opinion is that there should be no building, of any kind, in London's parks, particularly in one as special as Victoria Tower Gardens .

Victoria Tower Gardens is a small, precious Royal Park, with an iconic view of the Palace of Westminster. This swathe of grass is a delicate extension to the Houses of Parliament, and is a necessary oasis of stillness, enjoyed by many, in counterpoint to the majesty of Barry's buildings. London needs its vital green spaces, no more so than when they are small and perfectly-formed, like this one.

An intervention of the scale suggested by the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation's chosen design will inevitably destroy the park. It is disingenuous to suggest otherwise. Simply repeating the mantra that the proposed memorial and learning centre will enhance the park or leave it significantly untouched will not alter this basic fact.

How the park will look with the proposed design.

The necessary practicalities of hard surfacing, the paraphernalia of servicing the building, and the inevitable high-security measures, will dominate the landscape to the point where the entirety of this small park will become subsumed as the Holocaust memorial. The important and invaluable contribution which the park makes to the Houses of Parliament — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — will be lost.

SaveVTG simply believes that the price of losing this unique park is too high. It should not be misappropriated in this way. This is especially the case when there are perfectly fitting, if not better, alternative sites, specifically Imperial War Museum which already has its impressive Holocaust Galleries, soon to be upgraded; College Green, opposite Parliament and with a ready-made underground space; Russell Square with its nearby Holocaust institutions; The Mall as a central London location, and others.

Victoria Tower Gardens should be off bounds, inviolate and retained as it is, a beautiful oasis in the centre of London, available for the benefit of all its citizens and visitors.

Last Updated 09 November 2017