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Paddington Pole objectors applaud revised plans

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Campaigners have welcomed new proposals by Renzo Piano to replace the abandoned ‘Paddington Pole’ with a much lower office building

Last week developer Sellar Property group unveiled revised proposals for an 18-storey cubed commercial development after dropping plans for a 72-storey residential tower following huge criticism from leading architects, Westminster Council, residents and campaigners battling to protect the capital’s skyline.

Among those who had attacked the original application - which featured a controversial 254m-tall skyscraper - were Terry Farrell, Ed Jones, Francis Terry, the Victorian Society and Historic England.

Barbara Weiss, founder of the Skyline Campaign, said: ‘I am very gratified the developer has listened to us. I feel a great sense of relief. I wish more of these developers would try to find other solutions than going for a skyscraper every time.’

She said the decision signalled that London was ‘pulling back from the brink’ on tall buildings. Weiss added: ’Battersea has gone down the pan and in parts of east London a lot of what is happening will come to be regretted.

Designing skyscrapers has gone from something macho to something that is a bit embarrassing

‘But I sense that designing skyscrapers has gone from something macho to something that is a bit embarrassing. When I meet with architects who have designed these things, they often start off by apologising – they know people aren’t happy about it.’

Nicholas Boys Smith, director of social enterprise group Create Streets which champions low-rise terraced housing over ’complex multi-storey buildings’ said he was ’encouraged’ that the developer had taken note of public opinion.

He told the AJ: ’This willingness to listen and respond to residents who understand the local context better than anyone else is certainly a step in the right direction.

‘While we haven’t yet seen the full proposals and cannot therefore comment fully, we welcome the news that they have given consideration to the ground-floor impact, and to improved interaction with the station.’

He also hailed the announcement of discussions with neighbouring St Mary’s Hospital regarding potential collaboration.

Renzo Piano, revised Paddington plans for the Sellar Group, July 2016

Renzo Piano, revised Paddington plans for the Sellar Group, July 2016

Renzo Piano, revised Paddington plans for the Sellar Group, July 2016

Boys Smith added: ‘This supports the beliefs we have expressed before, and which we share with the local community, that the area around Paddington station is of such high profile and London-wide importance that it warrants full and comprehensive master planning.

‘This ought to cover a much larger area than merely the land owned by Sellar Property Group.’

Boys Smith, who later today (18 July) will be awarding the prizes in the competition launched by Create Streets ‘to find alternative proposals for the area’ added: ‘Aren’t streets, homes, and public squares a better fit for Paddington than poles and cubes? Paddington could and should be a great opportunity to think in terms of appropriate neighbourhoods rather than individual buildings.’

Renzo Piano Building Workshop is working with William Matthews - the architect on the Shard - and BDP on the revised cube-like scheme which went out to public consultation this weekend.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Substituting a cube for a pole is not urban design and again focusing on the object and not the wider context misses the point. It is revealing that a change in brief from residential to commercial has this impact, whatever became of mixed use one might ask?

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