THE Ambedkar House in Camden can resume its operation as a memorial for visitors as it received the necessary permission from the local authority.
Camden council has given the final go-ahead for the museum after UK communities secretary Robert Jenrick had intervened to grant retrospective planning permission for 10 King Henry’s Road in Camden.
Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar lived there in 1921-22 when he was a student at the London School of Economics (LSE).
But the minister’s order in March, which came at the end of an inquiry following an appeal against Camden Council’s planning refusal, came with a set of conditions.
“The Camden council has now given permission for the cycle stand and approved the management plan and therefore the conditions attached with the minister’s order on 12 March 2020 stands complied with,” said Janeevan John, of Singhania & Co Solicitors which dealt with the appeals process for the Indian High Commission in London.
Jenrick said: “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,”
The home was bought by the Maharashtra government for around £3.1 million and refurbished to transform into a memorial-cum-museum, which now houses photographs and belongings of Ambedkar, with the walls adorned with his famous quotations.
But later it was emerged that the right clearances for the creation of a museum on the site had not been sought.
The council, on the other hand, presented expert witnesses to try and establish that the Dalit rights activist’s association with the particular London house was very brief and any memorial can be moved elsewhere in order to not deprive the local area of crucial residential and housing space.
The Indian High Commission in London re-filed an appropriate planning application, which was rejected.
During an appeal hearing in September 2019, the Indian side argued that the home holds special significance for a huge section of Indians in the UK and outside because it was where Ambedkar lived during a crucial formative period in his academic life.
“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, who was a major figure in Indian and British History and his association with this property,” a Camden council spokesperson said.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi visited the place in November 2015 during his first visit to the UK.
This weekend marks the 64th death anniversary of Ambedkar, who died on December 6, 1956, at his home in Delhi at the age of 65.