Planned London Holocaust Memorial Irks Urban Watchdog

The Skyline Campaign says it is not the fact that it is a Holocaust memorial that is the problem, but that it would mar a central open space in the British capital.

A woman takes a selfie photograph in front of the Elizabeth Tower, otherwise known as Big Ben, at the Houses of Parliament in central London on December 7, 2016.
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP

A London-based urban design watchdog group, Skyline Campaign, is taking exception to plans to place Britain's official national Holocaust memorial in London's Victoria Tower Gardens, an open public space in central London, next to the British Houses of Parliament.

"This is nothing against a memorial or learning center to educate people about the Holocaust, it is about protecting one of London’s most beautiful assets," Skyline Campaign's Barbara Weiss told the Evening Standard. "If it was a school or art gallery our position would be the same. Parks should not be built on."

“We have had civilized conversations with the U.K. Holocaust Memorial Foundation and we are trying to dissuade them," she said in a report that appeared on the Evening Standard on Saturday.

In January, David Cameron, then the British prime minister, announced that the Holocaust memorial would be built next the British Parliament by the end of 2017, at a reported cost of £50 million ($63 million). He said location of the memorial next to Parliament would be a “statement of British values”.

There are a number of prominent firms in line to design the memorial. For his part, Peter Bazalgette, the chairman of Britain's national Holocaust memorial foundation, has expressed his support for the placement of the memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens.

Speaking last month to the London-based Architect's Journal, he said: "Victoria Tower Gardens has one of the most recognizable backdrops in the world, framed on two sides by the River Thames and the Palace of Westminster. It is an iconic location in the heart of British democracy, and the memorials already in the gardens can be viewed as a physical representation of the United Kingdom’s conscience and values."

He told the Evening Standard: "They will be a logical and harmonious addition to the space, joining the existing memorials which can be viewed as a physical representation of the United Kingdom’s conscience and values."