U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has promised to enact proposed legislation that would pave the way for a Holocaust memorial on the banks of the Thames River designed by Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects.
The Holocaust Memorial Bill would update a 123-year-old law that mandates the site for which the memorial is proposed be used as a public park.
Sunak told House of Commons MPs that the government intends to “legislate to build the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre next to Parliament so the testimonies of survivors […] will be heard at the heart of our democracy by every generation to come.”
The project has been stuck in limbo since Adjaye Associates and Arad won the memorial design competition in 2017. While there’s widespread agreement that the memorial should be built, there’s been disputes over its location.
The Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre at Victoria Tower Gardens received planning permission in 2021, but the London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust challenged the decision, arguing against its construction in the middle of a small, landmarked park near Parliment. In April 2022, the High Court ruled in the opponents’ favor.
According to Architects’ Journal, the London Parks and Gardens Trust responded to Prime Minister Sunak in a statement:
“It is crucial that the appalling events of the Holocaust must be understood by future generations, and we join with Parliament in observing Holocaust Memorial day. Our legal challenge never sought to question the need for a fitting Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, but simply to protect the laws which stop public parks from being built on.”
“It is right that Parliament will decide the best place to fulfil the noble aim of a national memorial. We respectfully urge parliamentarians to fulfil their generational responsibility to ensure Holocaust education in a way which also protects parks as places for everyone to reflect, relax and play.”