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Piano's Paddington Pole pulled from planning

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Renzo Piano’s proposed 254m-tall skyscraper scheme in west London, dubbed the Paddington Pole, has been withdrawn from planning 

Developer Irvine Sellar said he had listened to the concerns about ’the height and impact of the tower element of the scheme on the local area’ and was looking to revise the designs.

The plans for the controversial 72-storey giant next to Paddington station, which were submitted to Westminster City Council late last year, provoked a raft of objections including heavy criticism from architects Terry Farrell, Ed Jones and Francis Terry.

The project, which featured a new Bakerloo tube station, offices, new public piazzas and 691 homes, was also attacked by the Victorian Society, Historic England and Skyline campaigner Barbara Weiss who believed the plans had been ‘rushed’.

An online petition against the proposals attracted more than 1,800 signatures and Westminster Council received more than 800 comments on the application, the vast majority of them hostile.

Meanwhile a poll of AJ readers found that 78 per cent of those voters were against the project to redevelop the former Royal Mail sorting office at 31 London Street .

Sellar, who is working with Singapore-based Great Western Developments (GWD) on the scheme, said the decision had been made following ’high- level discussions between the leader and deputy leader of Westminster City Council’.

A spokesperson for the Sellar Property Group/GWD said: ’We’ve always believed that successful development is a collaborative process, involving the developer, council and community and look forward to delivering a development in Paddington of which Westminster and its residents can be proud.’

The leader of Westminster City Council, Philippa Roe, said: ’[This] is a very positive step and will allow time for us all to bring forward a development that enjoys broader community support and that we jointly believe will deliver enormous benefits to Westminster and London. We remain committed to ensuring that all the benefits of the original scheme are retained in the revised plans.

’As the local authority, we will always seek to strike the right balance between supporting successful schemes in Westminster, which will really benefit local people, London and the country for generations to come with the impact that development can have on existing communities.’

Renzo Piano Building Workshop has been retained to work on the revised scheme.


Barbara Weiss, co-founder Skyline Campaign
‘The withdrawal] follows weeks of intense campaigning that proved conclusively that this scale and type of insensitive, incongruous development is totally unwelcome, not only in the immediate local area, but across London as a whole.

’The Skyline Campaign welcomes the fact that the developer and Westminster Council intend to work closely with local residents and others. It will continue to monitor the new proposals.’

‘We hope that this new awareness will lead the way to a city-wide, comprehensive debate, and to a thorough re-examination of London’s overall strategy for tall buildings.’

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England
’This is good news. London’s skyline is unique, iconic and loved. It has to be managed sensitively and with proper planning. Tall buildings can be exciting and useful. But if they are poorly-designed, or in the wrong place, they can really harm our cities. We trust that the revised plans for Paddington Place will take the area’s unique character into account.

‘Westminster is home to some of the most valuable and sensitive built heritage in the world, and this heritage is essential to London’s economic, as well as cultural success. Cities that inspire and raise the spirits are the ones that can hope to be creative, happy and successful in the future.’

Francis Terry of Quinlan & Francis Terry Architects
’This is great news. But I’m not optimistic. They will come back with a slightly lower tower and get permission.’

Adam Hug, leader of Labour of Westminster City group
‘Westminster residents won’t accept only cosmetic changes to the Paddington Pole plans, shaving off just a few floors and hoping no one notices.
’There must be a real rethink about how this important site is used so that it benefits local people. We must all remain vigilant to ensure that this happens.’

2015.12.10   Skyline   Parry


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Michael Sorkin, discussing the New York city skyline in last August's 'Architectural Review', talked of 'a rush of global starchitects energetically putting lipstick on a rash(er) of enormous pigs', and went on to liken the skyline to a bar graph of real-estate prices.
    Where Manhattan goes, central London follows?

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