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Heathrow Express kickstarts Paddington renewal

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Railtrack is planning a £60 million-plus second phase of work on Paddington Station which will include demolishing a large section of the building, remodelling the track and building a large office building over the top with a new access deck for taxis.

Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners is already involved in a £60 million first phase, reworking the main Brunel-designed Grade I-listed building with new platforms, shops, restaurants, ticketing and check-in facilities for the Heathrow Express, and designing a glazed wall to open up the views of the station's interior.

But a Railtrack spokeswoman said that a Phase 2, which is only at pre- feasibility study stage, involved increasing track capacity, and demolishing Span 4, the 1920s roof over the current platforms 9-14, bringing the platforms back to realign buffer stops and creating a new office development.

Meanwhile the imminent launch of the Heathrow Express link from Paddington has spawned a series of other massive development plans for the area totalling hundreds of millions of pounds and featuring architects including Terry Farrell, Munckenbeck and Marshall, Jestico + Whiles and John Seifert.

The new 15-minute rail service into Heathrow will be opened fully by Prime Minister Tony Blair on 23 June. Already passengers are taking advantage of a (slower) trial service on the line, but Grimshaw's 30 new check-in facilities and ticket offices will mean that travellers will be able to drop off their baggage and pick it up at their destination airports, as happens at Victoria's Gatwick Express link.

In Paddington Basin, meanwhile, Terry Farrell and Partners has masterplanned for Chelsfield and Godfrey Bradman (see aj 19.3.98) a major scheme of offices and residential buildings, new bridges and cafes. The architect has submitted two planning applications for the site, each with differing proportions of office to residential space. The first has 50,000m2 of office space and 190 residential units. The second has 20,000m2 of offices and 450 residential units. Chelsfield's Nick Roberts said six new bridges or refurbishment plans for bridges across the basin would include collaborations between artists and engineers as part of a public art programme. Farrell has drawn up designs for a harbourmaster's building and a cafe-cum-bridge spanning the basin. Munkenbeck and Marshall is designing residential development to the north-west of the site, and Jestico + Whiles and Paskin Kyriakides Sandes are designing further schemes including a slender tower by Jestico +Whiles.

St Mary's Hospital, which is now the only hospital in the Westminster area, is also undergoing a transformation, with a new waterside a&e extension on site, and plans for a pfi building to free up more space. The hospital's chief executive said the current facilities, although listed Grade II, were hopelessly inefficient in energy terms, too hot in summer, and even a 10-year-old building the hospital had commissioned was now 'out of date'.

The hospital is a member of the Paddington Regeneration Partnership, formed six months ago to try to make a sucess of the area where prevous schemes had foundered.

Another member, Grainhurst Properties, is hoping to build at Paddington Goods Yard, or Bishopsbridge site, which is hemmed in by the railtrack, the Westway, the canal and Bishopsbridge Road. John Seifert Architects has masterplanned a series of eight buildings of 160,000m2 of office space, 4000m2 of retail including a Metro-type store near a pedestrian link to the station, and 210 apartments around a central square. Grainhurst project director Charles Spencer said the revised application on an outline permission included a design guide written up by Seifert for the area, to which all architects designing individual buildings, must conform. 'We deliberately avoided architecture,' he said. Spencer said he hoped to bring in three or four 'top-quality architects' at a later stage. The developer also wants to raise a listed, former br building to the north of the site - the Oval building - so it is more visible from the Westway and Harrow Road, and then convert it into a large restaurant, with a maximum of 400 covers.

Westminster City Council planner Graham King said that Paddington Station was a 'sleeping giant' that could regenerate the area - which was designated a special policy area for just such a purpose.

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