Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners' £200 million design for Paddington Station has met with a lukewarm response from CABE's design review committee. The committee said that 'a number of concerns' remain, in spite of changes made in response to earlier criticism.
Grimshaws has already halved the height of the 200m tower which dominated the scheme when it was submitted for planning in June 2000. But the committee said that while it acknowledged the 'immense complexity' of the project, it felt that 'further clarity and design refinement' was needed.
In particular, it was concerned that the station entrance lacks a 'dramatic experience' and that the passenger route between trains and taxis is 'potentially confusing'. Furthermore, while CABE is not opposed to the construction of a tower on the site, it was 'not completely satisfied' that the case for the latest design had been made.
The plans, which involve the demolition of one of the four Grade I-listed railway terminal arches, have already met resistance from English Heritage and the Victorian Society.
CABE's comments could provide further ammunition for opponents.
English Heritage has yet to examine the revised plan, but said it remained 'unconvinced' about the case for demolition and was concerned about the impact of a tall building on the surrounding conservation area.
But Paul Finch, chair of CABE's design review committee, stressed that while the commission's reservations concerned points of detail, it remained supportive of the principles underlying the scheme. He said the committee had been impressed by the level of work that has gone into the application for 'one of the most complex interchange projects in Britain'. And he added that he felt confident that the committee's concerns could be resolved through the planning process.
Both Grimshaws and Railtrack declined to comment, but a formal response to CABE will be made within the next week.
At the same meeting, the design review committee praised revised plans for the Arsenal stadium scheme by HOK Sport.
However, it had some concerns that the large podium area could appear 'barren' on non-match days. The committee said: 'We consider this to be an intelligent plan that will transform this difficult brownfield site.'