Right idea, Wrong place: Save Victoria Tower Gardens

by Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

Right idea, Wrong place: Save Victoria Tower Gardens

by Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign
Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign
Case Owner
A group of individuals and professionals coming together in order to prevent the Government from building a huge and out-of-character Holocaust Memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens.
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Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign
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A group of individuals and professionals coming together in order to prevent the Government from building a huge and out-of-character Holocaust Memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens.
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Latest: July 30, 2021



29 July 2021

CAMPAIGNERS CONDEMN MINISTER’S DECISION AS A ‘DISSERVICE TO HOLOCAUST EDUCATION’ – as Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre project is approved


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About us

The Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign group is fighting to prevent the Government from building a huge Holocaust Memorial and underground Learning Centre in the Listed Grade 2 riverside park next to Parliament.

We strongly support the Government’s wish to memorialise the Holocaust, and to improve education around racism and anti-Semitism. However, we believe that this park is the wrong site for ANY BUILDING. London’s precious parks should be preserved at all costs as untouched areas of greenery, to be enjoyed by the thousands of people who live or work nearby, or who come as visitors. It is our legacy to future generations.

A bit of background

The original report by the Holocaust Commission identified three potential sites for the Holocaust Memorial. The Commission could have, but did not, include VTG, presumably because it understood that parks are off-limits to development, and recognised that this one, specifically,  was too small to accommodate the original brief.

Our campaign began in January 2016 when, without consultation or debate, it was announced that Victoria Tower Gardens was the chosen site for both the Memorial and associated underground Learning Centre.

Why is this the wrong place? 

Broadly speaking, our arguments are:  

  • Green open space - Planning policy, at national, London and borough level, seeks to protect green open space. The proposed development will remove more than ¼ of the park’s grassed area, will change the atmosphere of the park and may lead to restricted access. The existing playground will be reduced in size and become a thoroughfare to the Holocaust Learning Centre.
  • Trees - Victoria Tower Gardens is lined with 100-year-old plane trees that frame the view of Parliament. As their roots extend far into the centre of the park, they are likely to be seriously damaged by the proposed underground excavation.
  • Heritage - The Gardens form part of the setting for the World Heritage Site that comprises The Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey. Historic England and ICOMOS (advisors to UNESCO), have expressed serious concerns about the impact of the proposal on the exceptional local heritage assets and neighbouring conservation areas. It would also eclipse the magnificent Buxton Memorial Fountain, the only Central London monument to the abolition of slavery.
  • Amenity – Very many of the homes close to Victoria Tower Gardens do not benefit from private gardens, so this park is essential recreational space for thousands of families, and a meeting place for all generations of the local community. This would be lost should the project go ahead.
  • Character - We now know that the applicants expect as many as 3 million visitors per year. An influx of this magnitude would transform Victoria Tower Gardens from a quiet park into a civic space, with all the attributes required to manage such large groups of people.
  • Flooding – Worryingly, the Environment Agency has stated that the proposed development ‘does not have a safe means of access and egress in the event of flooding.’
  • Traffic - The road beside the park is already busy with cars, cyclists and the traffic to Parliament. Allowing coaches to stop in the bus lane to drop off and pick up visitors to the Holocaust Memorial would increase congestion, pollution and risk to cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Security - Before long, VTG would be treated in its entirety as the Holocaust Memorial site. It’s likely that there will be searches at all entrance gates, armed security guards and restrictions on the use of the park.
  • Public opinion – An unprecedented 1100 people have objected to this planning application, via Westminster Council, and almost 13000 have signed a petition opposing the development. Many members of the Jewish community oppose this scheme for the reasons we outline here. Many also have a philosophical disagreement with this approach to Holocaust memorialisation, preferring to prioritise education over building.
  • Alternative locations - There are excellent alternatives to building in Victoria Tower Gardens, including the Imperial War Museum, which was one of the original site suggestions. The Government has not properly evaluated these, even though such a comparison is required in planning law by Environment Agency directives

What happens next 

Having applied to Westminster Council for planning permission, but anticipating a refusal, the Government decided in late 2019 to ‘call in’ its own application. The first step of this process involves a public inquiry, conducted by a Planning Inspector, who then submits a recommendation to the Secretary of State, for approval or refusal. At this point, having read all the background documents, the Secretary of State will reach his or her decision as to the fate of the project.    

As of 11 February 2020, Westminster Council has unanimously delivered the refusal that was expected. This is excellent news for our campaign, though we are now facing the next, important stage of this fight – the Planning Inquiry.

It is imperative that we present our very strong case in a way that both the Inspector and the Minister will find compelling. The planning issues involved are complex, and we need expert advice.

With a May start date for the Inquiry, we urgently need to instruct a solicitor, a junior barrister and a senior planning QC, to help us structure, argue and present our evidence so as to be irrefutable.  

How much do we need to raise?

Taking on the government doesn’t come cheap, and despite calling in all the volunteer and pro bono support we can get, it’s going to be a costly battle. At this stage we need to raise the £10 000 required to get advice and start preparing our case. We will then need further funds to carry us through to representation at the Inquiry.

Thank you

We’re extremely grateful to anyone who is able to help us.  There are important principles at stake, mainly the protection of parks for their recreational value, and the need for Government to abide by its own planning policies; ones that, in this case, are supported by all the statutory consultees.   

Victoria Tower Gardens today:


Victoria Towers Gardens as it will be, if planning permission is granted

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Update 16

Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

July 30, 2021



29 July 2021

CAMPAIGNERS CONDEMN MINISTER’S DECISION AS A ‘DISSERVICE TO HOLOCAUST EDUCATION’ – as Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre project is approved

Save Victoria Tower Gardens (SVTG) condemns the decision by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to proceed with its proposal to build a £100m + Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre occupying a significant area of green space in a small central London park, Victoria Tower Gardens (VTG).

Baroness Ruth Deech said:- "The decision to approve the current proposals for a Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, is divisive. Last autumn's public inquiry raised serious concerns about the plans' impact on heritage and a valuable public park, as well as raising issues of flood risk, security and damage to mature trees. 

We passionately believe that the Holocaust should be remembered, but we believe that this ill-considered and damaging proposal will do a disservice to victims and survivors, and little to enhance understanding and respect."

Housing Minister, Chris Pincher MP, announced today (29 July 2021) that the government will proceed with its plan to construct a Holocaust Memorial and underground Learning Centre in VTG, next to Parliament. The Planning Application for this project was submitted in 2019 to Westminster City Council in the name of Robert Jenrick MP, the Secretary of State in Mr Pincher’s department (MHCLG).

A 6-week Planning Inquiry took place in late 2020 after the planning application was called in from Westminster City Council at the last minute by MHCLG [1]. The Planning Inspector’s report was sent to Chris Pincher in April and was only published yesterday.

SVTG’s campaign has been gathering strength since the project was first put forward for Victoria Tower Gardens by David Cameron and Andrew Feldman in January 2016. The site had originally not been included among the fifty locations selected for consideration by Government advisers [2].

Subsequently, objections to the location have been raised by Westminster City Council, the Royal Parks, ICOMOS and leading Jewish commentators.

The main objections to the proposal:

· multiple breaches of planning policies, especially those protecting open space

· serious risk of flooding into an entirely subterranean building

· reduction and overcrowding of VTG as a local amenity including, among other things, compromising a vital children’s playground

· heritage impacts, including endangering the World Heritage status of the Westminster World Heritage Site

· security and pedestrian flow issues, due to the need for heavy security in a public park

· the severe conflict of interest involved in MHCLG being proposer, judge and jury on its own pet proposal

While Westminster City Council has recognised the importance of the project, in January 2020 its Planning Committee unanimously opposed the application, citing concerns about all the above issues except the last [3].

The Royal Parks have stated that they fear Victoria Tower Gardens, a rare riverside open space in Central London, will become a civic space, and that the mature plane trees that border the park will be put at risk by the deep excavation required to construct an underground learning centre [4].

ICOMOS, the body which advises UNESCO on cultural heritage, has strongly opposed the government’s plan on the grounds that it would have an adverse impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of this WHS, and would compromise the immediate setting and views [5]. UNESCO recently stripped Liverpool of its World Heritage status [6], and we understand that construction of the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in this location would put the Westminster WHS at similar risk.

The Environment Agency has imposed stringent conditions aimed at mitigating the risk of breach flooding at the site, which is just a few metres from the Thames river wall [7]. They also observed that as it is entirely underground the proposed building ‘does not have a safe means of access and egress in the event of flooding.’ Recent flash flooding in London has demonstrated the vulnerability of underground spaces to unexpected environmental events and also the danger of hard surfacing green sites [8].

Although the project is supported by the leaders of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and prominent figures including Gerald Ronson and Lord Polak [9], it has deeply divided the Jewish community. Holocaust educator Trudy Gold and Baroness Deech have both challenged the assertion that Holocaust Memorials combat antisemitism, and raised concern that this prominent memorial might even fuel antisemitism [10]. The former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Lord Carlile, has raised serious concerns about security risk [11]. Others, including Holocaust survivor Anita Wallfisch, Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, many Jewish peers and over 40 Holocaust academics [12] have questioned the educational value of a such a tiny learning centre when the War Museum (IWM), with its comprehensive brand new Holocaust galleries, is less than one mile away [13].

Helen Monger, Director of London Gardens Trust, said: 'This decision sets an appalling precedent for the desecration of parks and heritage by giving the green light to building on an historic public park and on the setting of the Westminster UNESCO-protected World Heritage Site. It also ignores the vital importance of green spaces to Londoners' wellbeing, as demonstrated during the pandemic, and the effects of climate change, plus the manifest problems of flooding, energy consumption and air pollution in our cities.'

The government has pledged £75m towards the £102m project, with the balance due to come from private donors. It is unknown how much has been raised privately to date, but over £12m has already been spent by MHCLG without scrutiny, including recent tendering for significant contracts and advertising for staff recruitment before the grant of planning permission [14].

The conflicts of interest inherent in the project [15] are yet another controversy for Robert Jenrick’s department, following the scandals surrounding Westferry Printworks and the Jockey Club.

Update 15

Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

Feb. 21, 2021

The Wallfisch Concert is still online - do enjoy it!

Thank you to all you generous people! The concert has been a huge success and a very heart-warming event. We have also made progress with our ever necessary fundraising, so all in all, a real brainwave of our wonderful cellist Raphael! 

Making music is one of life's true joys, to the point that watching Raphael and John together had for me the power of obliterating the unfortunate reason for the concert itself....  

The concert  link is


and the interview with Anita Lasker-Wallfisch is 

This update is to encourage those of you who did not have a chance to listen to use the link to the recording...and there might well be others like me who would love the opportunity to listen for a second time! 

Many thanks again for your support...we are beavering away in all sorts of new campaigning ways... Watch this spot and please continue to spread the word re fundraising for us!

Update 14

Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

Feb. 15, 2021



Dear All,

Concert reminder

A quick final reminder for Raphael Wallfisch and John York’s concert which is now (very excitingly) going to be live TODAY 15 FEBRUARY at 8.00pm both starting and ending with an interview with Raphael and John. We can’t wait.The link is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87194724271#success and will work for a month if you have to miss the concert tomorrow or want to watch it on repeat. Warning - the interviews are only tomorrow.

 Although the concert is free, we would love it if you wanted to donate – please do this through the Save Victoria Tower Gardens site https://savevtg.org/.

 Charles Moore’s article

And… if you haven’t already read Charles Moore’s powerful article about our campaign, this is the link https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/02/05/commemorating-holocaust-important-us-risk-getting-wrong/ and I’ve attached the article below in case you don’t subscribe to the Telegraph.

 Dorian Gerhold’s book on Victoria Tower Gardens

Another reminder too to buy Dorian Gerhold’s excellent book on the history of VTG. Do buy now: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/124372609139 - you won’t regret it.

With very many thanks and see you at the concert,

From all at Save Victoria Tower Gardens 

Website: www.SaveVictoriaTowerGardens.co.uk

Fundraising: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/save-victoria-tower-gardens/ (or via our Website, directly to The Thorney Island Society)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SaveVTG/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/savevtg?lang=en

Update 13

Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

Feb. 3, 2021


With the world in turmoil because of this catastrophic pandemic, it has of course been impossible for us to keep up our regular face-to-face meetings and all the activities that were supporting our campaign.  You will however be pleased to know that we are not being idle, as we wait to hear from the Minister what the outcome of the Public Inquiry might be.  This is now expected to happen after April, as the Public Inspector has up to then to trawl through all the material that has been submitted with the Inquiry, and then make a recommendation to Christopher Pincher, the Minister for Housing.  The Minister will then make up his own mind on whether he will follow or not the recommendation.  

So what have we been up to?  There have been endless zoom meetings within our 'core' group, to strategise re what can be done ,  to discuss the  many media pieces that have been appearing, for and against, ( have you seen the excellent article in the New Statesman by Sir Richard Evans,    https://www.newstatesman.com/ideas/2021/01/how-should-we-remember-holocaust , and Rowan Moore's interview with Anita Lasker-Wallfisch in the Guardian,  https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/dec/27/holocaust-survivor-anita-lasker-wallfisch-uk-holocaust-memorial-learning-centre ?), to find new support and galvanise old supporters.  There have been lots of searching parliamentary questions asked, and Freedom of Information requests regarding the rather murky financial background to the project.  Many new supporters of our cause have been appearing on the scene, including well-known personalities in politics and in educational circles.  Our morale is boosted by all this, though we do not of course under-estimate the weight of the bias against us.

Amongst many heart-warming new initiatives is the extremely generous offer from the acclaimed  musicians  Raphael Wallfisch and John York to perform on February 15th  at 8pm at St. John's Smith Square - a fundraising event for Save Victoria Tower Gardens .  The concert is for free, but any donations will be very gratefully received, as we will no doubt be facing more legal  costs in the near future.  To access the concert please go to the link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87194724271 and follow directions. You can find out more from the Save Victoria Tower Gardens website.  It will no doubt be a very special evening.  We very much hope you can make it, and will spread the word widely.

Many thanks again for all your amazing support!

Update 12

Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

Nov. 29, 2020

The Public Inquiry has come & gone - we are proud of our success and teamwork


Earlier this month, at the end of the marathon event that the Holocaust Memorial Public Inquiry was always going to be, it was with surprise that attendees acknowledged that the sheer tension and gripping subject matter had made it into their daily, unmissable focus. Some even found normal life, with only Brexit and the pandemic to worry about, something of an anti-climax.

What started in 2016 as a neighbourhood outrage, opposing a misconceived planning application, has indeed turned into a planning ‘test case’, notable for legal points raised but also for the profound rifts between supporters and objectors, across London, the UK, and the Jewish community.

With this acrimonious battle subsuming highly-charged current issues, not surprisingly several influential members of the community are wary of their symbolic project being ‘hijacked’ for party-political motives. It was therefore insightful to hear a student exploring, in her thesis, intertwined political and religious aspects of Holocaust memorialisation, siding with Baroness Deech in outing the government’s self-serving ‘British values’ agenda as part of the Learning Centre’s core message.

Would the stakes be so high had Corbyn’s Labour Party not disgraced itself so profoundly regarding anti-Semitism? Would the absurd, proposed location of the Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens – a registered park – be so fiercely contested were the government not pandering to powerful supporters? Following the disgraced, eye-wateringly-expensive Garden Bridge, how could Boris Johnson’s coterie support trying to deface another London beauty spot, relying on absolute political authority?

The toss as to who wins remains in the balance, given the grossly unequal playing field. Will there be a deep sigh of relief among our supporters, or will this chapter go down in history alongside too many recent avoidable architectural disasters? Most shocking, however, for opponents, is the realisation that the government is effectively advocating that huge chunks of planning law, with innumerable clauses, paragraphs and guidance notes, be comprehensively disregarded in the name of elusive, unquantifiable, purely emotional ‘public benefits’.

Were the applicant an investor intent on maximising returns, the stubbornness in refusing compromise would not surprise. But this is the UK government, whose job it is to uphold its own rule of law while protecting heritage assets. Surely it must recognise that public benefits causing such controversy cannot deliver universal ‘public’ advantages; or that advocating the destruction of registered parks and killing majestic trees is not a good look in 2020.

The objecting Rule 6 Parties closing submissions were surgical in analysing the project’s flaws and likely consequential harm, also highlighting the government’s repeated avoidance of its procedural obligations (consultations, investigations, considerations of alternative sites) and neglect of core brief recommendations. They persuasively concluded that, had an alternative, non-controversial site been chosen for the Learning Centre, possibly the Imperial War Museum, external objections and interferences would have been absent; the public inquiry would have been avoided and enormous amounts of time and public money saved. Most significantly, the centre might even have been, by now, a physical reality and the anger, hurt and deep divisions characterising this project would not now be tainting its chances of success.

As, however, the oft-used barrister’s rather endearing refrain goes, ‘we are where we are’. In looking for a silver lining, it must be said that the past weeks were mesmerising for the many truly exceptional people participating in the inquiry, sharing their deep thoughts, experiences and opinions on a vast range of subjects.

There is no doubt that this debate should have happened years ago, involving the same breadth of speakers and mix of social and religious communities, age groups, specialisms, individual and general interests – aiming together to find a solution that would gift us a meaningful memorial while leaving future generations to enjoy our wonderful city, unscathed. If lucky, we might be offered a second chance.

The above article by Barbara Weiss was published on 27.11.20 in the Architect’s Journal. 

As always, we wish to thank you  very much for your incredible generosity, as it  made all the difference to how we were able to run our case.  We believe we have done incredibly well so far And that is very much thanks to you.  

We are now awaiting to hear whether we will be given leave to appeal the Judicial Review in relation to the Government‘s conflict of interest-  In the meantime, we need to settle our legal fee obligations, and we are trying to raise more funds for PR .  All further donations, however small,  will be  hugely welcome. 

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Update 11

Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

Oct. 9, 2020




IT IS FASCINATING, at least in parts ( some sessions are a bit technical and dry, but others are riveting!)

Update 10

Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

Oct. 5, 2020


Tomorrow, 6 October 2020, marks the beginning of the Public Inquiry that is due to lead to a decision being taken about the construction of the proposed Holocaust Memorial and underground Learning Centre within Victoria Tower Gardens, our much-loved, poetic green enclave, bound on one side by a river wall to the Thames, and another by the Houses of Parliament.

The Public Inquiry will last 4-5 weeks, spread across October and November (the current end date is 13 November), with, on average, 3 virtual sessions being held every day, mornings and afternoons except on Mondays.  If you are interested in following it (and it will no doubt be fascinating to hear the arguments from both sides) you can access it from your own homes via this link: https://youtu.be/bRMJW7Oha3Q.

Members of the public are welcome to participate, but given the complexity of the case, the Inspector is keen to avoid repetition of the main arguments for or against.  If you wish to find out more, or wish to speak, you can write to :helen.skinner@planninginspectorate.gov.uk

Since I last wrote, the Judicial Review has come and gone, a moment of great excitement that resulted in our side winning one argument and losing another.  The Government was castigated for not having implemented sufficiently convincing “handling arrangements” to guarantee a total separation between its two internal functions ( applicant and also decision-maker –we consider this to be a conflict of Interest), but the judge sadly did not consider our qualms sufficiently serious to suggest that a final decision on this matter should be taken away from the Minister who is currently designated to make it.  We are of course troubled by this decision and currently very seriously considering an appeal….

Before going further, I must once again wholeheartedly thank all of you for having allowed us to get to this point.  Without your wonderfully generous contributions to our war chest we could not have done this.  I can assure you that every day we are counting our pennies, balancing our expenditure between expert fees, PR opportunities, and other legal costs of all kinds. 

Many new donors have come forward in the past few weeks; we are therefore feeling less anxious about our financial position, but we are, by no means, yet out of the woods, particularly if we are to appeal!  So please direct our way anyone who might be sympathetic to this great cause.  If we win, the whole of London will be able to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that future generations have been spared the destruction of one of its secret gems.

I will do my best to update you on the course of the Inquiry.  You will be interested to know that the main players are:

The applicant (the Government) - proposing the building

Westminster City Council – opposing

Then there are a number of Rule 6 Parties, for and against:


Save Victoria Tower Gardens  (us!) in collaboration with The Thorney Island Society (our local amenity society)

London Parks and Gardens  - a charity

Baroness Deech with a number of supporters, including several from Holocaust Educational backgrounds


Learning from the Righteous

There will then also be a large number of members of the public acting as Interested Parties. We do not yet know who or how many.

Wish us luck!

Update 9

Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

Sept. 3, 2020

We are now less than a week away....

The first act of the legal performance is happening on 9 September, when a judge will decide whether we have a case for a Judicial Review of the Government's arrangements, and if so, will proceed with the JR immediately.  

While a Judicial Review deals with the process and not the content of our dispute, it is extremely important for us that it should go ahead,.  It is our case that, as matters currently stand, there is an inherent Conflict of Interest and Pre-determination in the present set-up that will not give us the certainty of a fair hearing.  

At the moment, as you know, we are facing a Public Inquiry that will run for most of October and November, conducted by a Planning Inspector.  At the end of it,  as things stand, he will come up with a Recommendation. This will then be passed on to a Government Minister, Christopher Pincher, who has the power to make the final decision on whether this totally inappropriate development should go ahead or not. 

While we are told that Pincher will be completely independent in his judgment, how naive must you be to believe this???? The Conservative Party Manifesto itself promises to build this building, and the Prime Minister and everyone under him have vowed to make this happen. Why on earth would Pincher suddenly risk his whole political career by going against the political will of his superiors?  

It is indeed our request, if we win this round, that the decision-making power should be taken away from Christopher Pincher and either left with the Inspector, or given to another person in a suitable position of authority ( eg a Judge) - with no connections to the Conservative party or to the Government.  Obvious?  You might well think.

As we enter this critical phase, we desperately need to raise money for the legal team that has been slaving away day and night.  We are making huge progress, and feeling so much more confident of our case than ever before.  We are however sadly terribly strapped for cash.

The vast majority of us involved in the Inquiry and JR are putting in hundreds of professional hours for free...Days, nights and weekends, to make this happen. 


Another two months, and this will be hopefully over. PLEASE HELP US WIN!  WE NEED YOU!

Many thanks

Update 8

Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

Aug. 23, 2020

Simply: thank you, we could not do without you!

We are now less than 3 weeks away from the Judicial Review that was called a few months ago by the London Parks and Gardens Trust (LPTG), seeking to remove from the government and its ministers the final decision-making process in relation to this application,  handing it over instead to the independent Planning Inspector himself.

LPTG is a small charity that does wonderful work in protecting and promoting green spaces across our capital.  In our current Covid19 world, few things are so important to us as greenery and outdoor space. We are hugely indebted to LPGT for promoting this Judicial Review, and we are supporting and backing them, in many ways, and working very closely with their directors.  

The outcome of the Judicial Review is extremely important for everyone participating in the ensuing Public Inquiry, as sadly we simply do not trust the independence of anyone connected to the Government.  Ours is a clear case of Conflict of Interest and Pre-Determination and in a country with such a long-standing tradition for fairness and the supremacy of the rule of law, it is hard to imagine that we should be finding ourselves in this situation.

This week's good news is that we are really gearing up for the Public Inquiry, with all our wonderful expert witnesses having made huge progress with their scathing Proofs of Evidence, due to be submitted to the Planning Inspector in a very short time.  It is amazing to me how many reasons there are to lambast this awful, mindless scheme, that does so little for what it officially sets out to stand for, and so much to upset people who love their heritage, their city and their neighbourhoods.  

Finally, as always, this is not just an update, this is also, of course, a huge thank you to all those wonderful people who have contributed to our war chest - we spend so much time counting our pennies, worrying whether we can afford our legal team to help us with this or with that...your help is SO INCREDIBLY APPRECIATED.  We still have a long way to go (probably another £30K to cover everything), but we are getting much closer, and the CrowdJustice money is an amazing achievement.

THANK YOU, and please spread the word!  All ideas for more fundraising hugely appreciated!


Update 7

Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

July 24, 2020

The die is cast....

The last few months have seen a significant intensification of activity concerning a number of legal aspects relating to our case.  In particular, we are delighted that the London Parks and Gardens Trust (LPGT) was granted a hearing for a Judicial Review of the Government's 'arrangements' in relation to who will be the final decision-maker following the Public Inquiry.  As many of you will know, as things now stand, the appointed Inspector will hear the arguments from all the parties and then. in reaching his own conclusions,  will make a recommendation to the minister who will be standing in for the Secretary of State ( Christopher Pincher) to either Approve or Refuse the scheme.  (Robert Jenrick has had to recuse himself, as he came out very clearly in favour of the scheme).   The problem is that the minister (who reports back directly to the Secretary of State) has the power to overturn the recommendation - so why would he not do what he knows is expected from him?

LPGT - and we with them - believes that there is a clear case of conflict of interest in the arrangement, as the Government is both the applicant and the decision-maker. 

This is made even more apparent by the Conservative Manifesto stating 'We will support the construction of the planned UK Holocaust Memorial", a clear case of pre-determination, given that the project has not yet gone through the planning process.  

If we win the Judicial Review (which will be held 9-10 September), we will instead obtain the right to have the Public Inquiry determined by an individual who is not in any way connected to the Government  - potentially the Inspector himself.

As you can imagine, it is crucial that we should give this case everything we can, as it could be a game-changer once we move on to the Public Inquiry stage (the date set for the PI is beginning of October).

At the moment however we are desperately trying to fundraise as much as we ever can, as we are relying heavily at this stage on the professional support of a highly qualified, top legal team.  We appreciate that so many of you have already helped us with previous donations.  We, the core group of Save Victoria Tower Gardens, have also contributed time and time again as the expenses have increased - but our coffers are worryingly bare.   We now need to pay lawyers, a small PR team, court expenses, and expensive expert witnesses.  

We cannot get there unless you help us. It would be amazing if you could once again support us for this last stretch of this case, and ask those you know who are with us to also donate as much as they are comfortable with.  Every small donation helps.

We thank you in advance...and beg you not to let all this effort be for nothing...we are nearly at the end, and we have all invested so much energy and passion in trying to stop this iniquity...please help us win, we deserve to!


Update 6

Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

March 18, 2020

As the world descends into total chaos….

....and it has become so very difficult to focus on anything other than the dreaded Coronavirus, matters that were central to our lives only weeks ago have suddenly been pushed to one side - as we focus on surviving.

Unfortunately, however, our Public Inquiry, for now at least, is still scheduled to start at the end of May – so there is no reprieve on our urgent need to prepare, setting up our own dream team of legal advisors and witnesses to convincingly counter the Applicant’s line-up of some of the toughest characters in town. 

‘They’ are certainly not taking any risks – which we could take as a sort of back-handed compliment…..but the implication for us is that we must have access to experts of equal standing, and to do this, we need to take our fundraising to the next level.

SO PLEASE DO NOT LET ALL OUR SHARED EFFORTS BE FOR NOTHING, another victim of this terrible virus.  Each and every donation helps!  We are hugely grateful for your continuous generosity.

Update 5

Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

March 3, 2020

First meeting looms

Next week we will be participating in a meeting with the Planning Inspector.  This will be, we expect, a preliminary encounter to familiarise everyone taking part as a Rule 6 Party (the main actors) with the process, timeline and people involved.  A first step, but one that makes it all feel a lot more REAL... and a bit scary too, as there is so much to do before May, and we still desperately need to fill our coffers in order to be able to afford THE BEST POSSIBLE LEGAL ADVICE for each stage of the fight.  We are, after all - do I need to remind you! - only taking on the Government of the UK!

Once again, thank you so much to all those who have donated, recently and from the very beginning... So good to know that every penny that comes in now we can allocate freely...We are now however appealing to the thousands and thousands of you who have signed our petition or bothered to write your comments on the Planning Portal!

If each of you contributed even a small amount and got others to do so,  we would be in such a good financial position, and our team's energies could be re-deployed elsewhere.  

So this is dedicated to:

  • current users of the park
  • those who use the playground
  • those who have memories of the park, some going back a very long time
  • those who have visited the park, and were enamoured with the views
  • those who cannot bear to see our unique World Heritage Site destroyed by crass, bling architecture
  • those who know that SW1 is short of green leisure space
  • those who know the benefits of open areas on mental and physical health
  • those who worry about the impact of an additional 3m people on their doorstep
  • those who object to politicians and donors desecrating one of London's prime sites for pure vanity and personal gain

and many more...

PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE   help us reach our £30K next target - even that is only an intermediate target, and we must get there.  All small donations are welcome! 

Update 4

Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

Feb. 27, 2020

A lot is happening!

On a very positive side, we have reached our first fundraising target - BUT you will all know that this figure is the absolute minimum we needed, enough to get initial advice from a very prominent QC on general strategy and to submit our Statement of Case.

So please keep on spreading the word, and urging others to help us get to a level of funding that will allow us to benefit from additional legal and PR help.  Both are ESSENTIAL.

On a more factual side, we have now heard back from the Planning Inspector, who has copied us the submitted Statement of Cases.  It is very good to know what the other side will be arguing against us - and it is good that there do not seem to be any surprises. 

While the legal battle in June will undoubtedly fierce, the current tone of the applicants' submission is - at least for the layperson! - somewhat down-sided, fully acknowledging the risk  that its proposal will be found to contravene planning policy - Should this be the case, they will rely on the argument that the "national public benefit" aspect of the Memorial and Learning Centre should trump planning considerations...though why it should be allowed to destroy a Listed park, instead of being on another nearby site remains still totally unconvincing!

Update 3

Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

Feb. 25, 2020

We've made it! We are past the first hurdle!

With more than half a month to go, we are now past the first great test-  had we not reached our £10K, we would have had to kiss goodbye to all the wonderful donations that so many of you have pledged.  But no, we made it! ...with 16 more days to go, we are over the £10K mark, and every penny will be put to good use. Promise!  Now the text target ( £30K) looms as our big future challenge...

Today is also the deadline for our Statement of Case.  This is the document that will go to the Planning Inspector, setting out all the reasons why we think this project would be a disaster for Victoria Tower Gardens.  Every point we have raised ( and it is a lengthy document!) will allow us to argue our position on that specific topic, and to bring in experts that will back us up.   

We will now also find out - hopefully soon, what the proponents of this disastrous scheme think are their best reasons for allowing it....focusing our minds on our best strategy for winning the argument.

Watch this space!  I will get back to you ASAP.  And many many thanks for all your support - so appreciated by all of us!


Update 2

Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

Feb. 20, 2020

Now is the time to put your money where your mouth is!! Please help us....

We are doing well...We are on the home stretch for our FIRST fundraising target; and it now looks as if, if we are lucky, we will make it to the £10K that will allow us to benefit from all the financial help that the wonderful CrowdJustice platform has to offer.  A huge thank you from all of us at Save Victoria Tower Gardens to those 80 people who have contributed so generously during the past few days. The average pledge is £82, which is really amazing.  


To fight the Public Inquiry with any chance of winning, we are going to need, minimally,  £50-100K to instruct the best lawyers available.  If you divide £100K by £82, we are going to need 1219.5 people to contribute £82 each, on average, or 2000 people to contribute £50.  With our petition being signed every day now by more and more people (we are now well over 13000 !), this should not be difficult.  

So please, please, make sure you are one of the 2000 people who DONATES. 

At Save VTG, our little core group has already donated many thousands of pounds, and many thousands of hours.  Please help us raise the next amount!  We know you can do it.

Update 1

Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

Feb. 16, 2020


16 FEB 2020 — 

Forty-five generous people have now donated to our Crowdjustice  account 


 which now stands us at £3665.  Thank you all so much, we are hugely appreciative of your contribution, as every penny counts and will make a big difference.

Very unfortunately, however, WE CANNOT STOP NOW

If we do not reach our initial target of £10K in the next 26 days, all money pledged will be refunded to the donors, and our war-chest will be once again totally bare.  Keeping in mind that £10K is only an initial contribution to cover basic legal advice, and that the looming battle will require funds up to the Public Inquiry in June, we need to call on each and every one of you to support us with whatever sum you might feel comfortable with contributing.  Given that 13,000 people have now signed our petition, and many more are joining us every day, it should not be that difficult to raise what we need to secure the best possible legal advice – but it does need you to DONATE. 

We are now engaged in consultation with extremely inspiring and experienced legal professionals who are helping us set up what we hope will be an INVINCIBLE strategy.  As we all know, our case is extremely solid, and we absolutely deserve to win.  The problem however is having an adversary of the magnitude and power such as the BRITISH GOVERNMENT, who has furthermore proven that they are prepared to fight us NO HOLDS BARRED.

My second request from you is to please please spread the word, helping us reach your friends and family and neighbours…Even the smallest donations are useful if we get enough of them (though of course if anyone can give more, that would be even more fantastic!).  ‘Save VTG’ has collected £50K over the past four years from its core group, which has gone on essential reports, legal advice and PR – and many of us are giving inordinate amounts of time to the cause….so it is time to ask you, the wider pool, to help us WIN.   Thank you very much from all of us!

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