The British government on Friday accepted India’s appeal against the closure of Ambedkar House in North London, and said the memorial will remain open to visitors, All India Radio reported.
United Kingdom Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said he had granted retrospective planning permission on Thursday for 10, King Henry’s Road in Camden, a house where Dr BR Ambedkar lived in 1921-’22 as a student at the London School of Economics, to function as a museum. The minister had recovered the appeal in the case last September.
The memorial had faced closure due to an alleged breach of planning norms for the residential area. The Maharashtra government had bought the home and refurbished it to transform it into a memorial-cum-museum. The museum has photographs and belongings of Ambedkar on display, and the walls are adorned with his famous quotations.
“I was pleased to grant planning permission for a museum in London to Dr Ambedkar, one of the founding fathers of modern India and an important figure to many British Indians,” Jenrick said according to PTI.
The Camden Council had opposed India’s application. However, the UK Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government stepped into the case last year, and was to decide the case based on recommendations from an independent inspector appointed by the country’s Planning Inspectorate. The inspector oversaw an investigation into the Indian government’s plea last year.
Jenrick then decided that the UK government should make the final decision on the appeal, due to the importance of the site and the contribution of British Indians to the country’s cultural heritage.
Camden Council on Friday issued a statement expressing disappointment, but indicating that it will not appeal the UK government’s decision. “Whilst we are disappointed that the Planning Inspectorate has ruled against the council’s original decision for 10 King Henry’’s Road, we do accept and respect the decision that has been made given the additional evidence presented by the appellant at the Inquiry regarding Dr Ambedkar...” a spokesperson for the council said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited the memorial during his 2015 trip to the United Kingdom.