Controversial scheme would not cause substantial harm to Westminster World Heritage Site, says planning minister

David Adjaye’s Holocaust Memorial has been approved by the planning minister after a public inquiry and a bitter two year fight.

Chris Pincher today announced he agreed with the decision of his planning inspector to let the controversial scheme go ahead.

The planning inspector’s report was given to him in April but not previously published.

The scheme was called in for ministerial approval in November 2019 and a public inquiry was held in autumn last year.

The memorial and education centre can now be built in Victoria Tower Gardens on Millbank, beside the Palace of Westminster, although it is contingent on securing £25m of private funding.

Opponents, who include architect Barbara Weiss, argued that the proposals would wreck a rare piece of green space in that part of central London and would place a potential terrorism target right next to the Houses of Parliament.

They now have a six-week window in which to challenge the decision by applying to the High Court for leave to bring a statutory review.

The design, by Adjaye Associates with Ron Arad Architects and Gustafson Porter & Bowman, has been reworked several times in a bid to minimise its impact on the gardens and the wider Westminster Unesco World Heritage Site.

At the inquiry Adjaye said: “What excited us about this project was this idea of having not just a memorial you go to in the traditional sense but one you can [also] enter to experience a learning centre.

“I don’t know a single memorial in the whole world where that happens – I don’t say that lightly – where you go through the memorial into a learning centre, which I think is a very profound evolution of this way of memorialising and understanding education: both a memorial and a gateway to an illumination of information.”

Today’s reports from the minister and his inspector run to more than 400 pages. Among their findings were that the setting of Parliament, the garden’s existing listed memorials and other local heritage assets would not be substantially harmed by the project.

The decision comes just days after Unesco stripped Liverpool of its World Heritage Status because of the development approved around its historic waterfront.

The memorial was announced in 2016 by then prime minister David Cameron who said it would be dedicated to the six million Jews and other victims murdered by the Nazis in the Second World War.

The winning team was appointed in 2017 after beating firms including John McAslan & Partners, Foster & Partners, Studio Libeskind, Zaha Hadid Architects and Caruso St John in an international competition.