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Plans Purged for Paddington Pole

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

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Protestors in London’s historical district who expressed concerns about a new skyscraper have successfully stopped an Italian architect from building what locals had nicknamed the “Paddington Pole.”

Campaigners from Skyline and Historic England prompted developers to withdraw their plans for a 254-meter (830-foot) Paddington Place tower in west London, according to The Guardian. The campaign, which also had dubbed the skyscraper the “skinny Shard,” had been urging planning committees to deny the plans because of the effect it would have on the city skyline.

“London’s skyline is unique, iconic and loved,” said Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England. “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,” continued Wilson. “We trust that the revised plans for Paddington Place will take the area’s unique character into account.”

Developer Scales Back

On Saturday (Jan. 30), Westminster City Council said that developer Irvine Sellar—who was using the same architect, Renzo Piano, that had built Sellar’s Shard in Southwark—would reconsider his plans after hearing concerns from the campaigners and Historic England. The council’s planning committee had been due to vote on the skyscraper on March 8, according to The Guardian.

Previously, Sellar had promoted his 72-story tower as a revolutionary design for the Paddington area of the city.

“We believe this exciting proposal will tap into the potential of Paddington and will prove to be a major catalyst for the continuing enhancement of the area, especially Praed Street—in much the same way that the Shard did for London Bridge,” the developer had said in October when the project was announced.

As reported previously, the original designs called for a 65-story skyscraper before Sellar added another seven stories. The addition of those floors—as well as the shape and scope of the design itself—lead to Historic England making an official objection to the proposal.

“[We have] very serious concerns indeed about the impact of the proposals on the historic environment,” the historical group had written in a letter of objection.

Going Up, Then Down

When it was first proposed, the tower was supposed to be 224 meters (735 feet) tall. But less than two months later, developers said they were increasing the height to 254 meters (833 feet) tall.

“The change in height is part of a number of changes to the scheme, as a result of our ongoing consultation with the local community and our stakeholders,” Sellars had said in a statement in December. “As such, the curved design of the towner has evolved and its height has increased.”

More recently, architect Terry Farrell—whose studio is near the proposed site—wrote to the Westminster City Council to complain that the skyscraper failed to address the need for wider regeneration near the Paddington Station area.

Farrell told Dezeen that the £1 billion (US$1.4 billion) plan by Sellar’s company and Great Western Developments was “piecemeal and opportunistic.” Farrell also put forward his own plans for a mid-rise development on the same site.

“Clearly we think it's the right decision,” Farrell told Dezeen following the news that plans had been withdrawn.

Successful Campaigns

Both Skyline and Historic England had expressed their concerns not just about the height but also about how the building would fit into the Paddington area’s relatively low-scale architecture and conservation areas, which they said would “stick out like a sore thumb.

“We realize that it’s just the first round of a very long war and there will be many other phases,” Skyline’s co-founder Barbara Weiss told Dezeen. “We’re not going to be happy to cut the building down by just a few floors, we really want a major rethink to create a proposal for that site for the local context.”

The tower—which now may become exceptionally smaller—was to be built at a former Royal Mall sorting office at 31 London Street. Construction would have started in August 2016 with a completion date of 2020.

The skyscraper was expected to have 330 apartments, 10,000 square feet of office space and 4,600 square feet of retail space, according to previous reports. It also was to serve as a public space that could offer a new gateway to Paddington Station.

In response to the protests, Sellar Property Group told the Guardian that it would be reconsidering its plans and its use.

“We have 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 developer said.

Meanwhile, Wilson told The Guardian that he believed the announcement was “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,” said Wilson.

   

Tagged categories: Architecture; Building design; Building Envelope; Commercial / Architectural; Europe; Project Management; Residential Construction; Urban Planning

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