The Skyline campaign has called Westminster council’s approval of the 30-storey tower at West End Green ‘naive and inappropriate’
Campaign head Barbara Weiss said the decision to go ahead with the high-rise scheme on Edgware Road - which had already been trimmed in height by nine storeys - would ‘open the floodgates to many more similar unsympathetic tall buildings’ in Westminster.
She told the AJ: ‘Once a model borough in terms of its concern for heritage, Westminster is currently throwing caution to the wind and approving all sorts of clumsy commercial schemes that will blight forever some of its best views and streets.’
The plans for West End Green have been subject to planning battles for more than a decade, with deputy prime minister John Prescott intervening over a previous retail scheme on the site in 2005. The 1ha site is currently home to a car park and car wash, and was purchased by developer Berkeley in September 2015.
A planning application for a mixed-use scheme was submitted in December last year which includes 652 homes - of which 126 have been classed as affordable - offices, shops, restaurants and a ‘boutique’ cinema. The height of the tower was reduced from 39 to 30 storeys following a public consultation.
The scheme was approved by Westminster despite reservations from a number of notable public bodies, as well as 10 Westminster councillors. Historic England also opposed the scheme along with local MP Karen Buck, Royal Parks, Paddington Waterways and Sport England.
Skyline campaigners argued that the tower would intrude on the views from central London parks as well as Marylebone and Little Venice, and wanted it to be reduced further to a maximum of 25 storeys.
Weiss added: ’The Skyline campaign and its many supporters are hugely disappointed by this naive and inappropriate decision, that will no doubt open the floodgates to many more similar unsympathetic tall buildings. The planning officer indeed confirmed that it would be impossible for the council to stop this from becoming a precedent for other towers.
’Very worryingly, this ruling reflects Westminster council’s change in attitude not only to tall buildings, but also in the consideration with which its own policies are taken into account.’
A spokesperson from Squire & Partners said: ’Planning consent was granted last night for the regeneration of West End Green, breathing life into a long-neglected and underused site in a prominent location.
’The high-quality mixed-use design sets a series of mansion blocks around a new garden square, with a tall residential element articulating the transition between commercial development at Paddington Basin with the more residential scale of Paddington Green and Little Venice to the west.
’The tower facade is expressed vertically and with a minimum number of bays, using a palette of brick and stone with bronze framed windows. The simplicity of the design creates a rhythm of expressed columns, spandrels, bays and balconies.’
Berkeley Homes has been contacted for comment.
Postscript - a response to Barbara Weiss from Westminster City Council
‘As was highlighted in the committee report which detailed the application, West End Green is a unique site and so any development granted there was not going to set a precedent.’