The Government of Maharashtra (one of the states of India), represented by Steven Gasztowicz QC, has been granted planning permission for a new museum in Primrose Hill, on appeal from a decision of Camden LBC.
The appeal was against an enforcement notice to return the museum in the former home of Dr B R Ambedkar to its previous residential use. It was recovered by the Secretary of State because it related to development of major importance having more than local significance.
Camden LBC argued the development was contrary to the development plan, which the Planning Inspector and the Secretary of State accepted, but, following a public inquiry, they both found the requirements of the plan to be greatly outweighed by the importance of the museum.
Developers of new facilities can be encouraged by the decision, which shows that, despite clear conflict with the Plan even taking into account the cultural, social and tourism policies within it, planning permission can still be obtained in an appropriate case.
Dr Ambedkar is largely unknown in England, and Camden LBC argued that he was of no national importance here and had lived at the house for only a limited time in the 1920s.
However, his doctoral thesis led to the founding of the Reserve Bank of India, and he was the author of the Indian Constitution. Unlike Ghandi, he worked critically with the British government to bring about change, and was also massively important in improving the conditions of the 'untouchable' caste, and women, in India. In a poll of 18 million Indian people in 2012, he was voted the greatest figure in Indian history.
A copy of the Secretary of State's decision letter and the Inspector's report can be found here.