Proposals for a 39-storey block of flats on the site of the former Paddington Green Police Station have been opposed by councillors.
Local representatives criticised revised plans to build three skyscrapers just north of the Westway on the crossroads of Edgware Road and Marylebone Road, with all members of the planning committee supporting an objection to the Mayor of London, after the development was called in to be determined by Sadiq Khan’s office last year.
Particular focus was drawn to the increased height of proposed Block K, which while reduced in footprint from the rejected 2021 drawings, was heightened by 7 floors, from 32 to 39 storeys, meaning it would tower over local viewpoints and even be potentially visible as far away as the Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill.
The chair of the major planning applications committee, Ruth Bush, questioned why a medium height solution was not explored, and admitted to being ‘shocked’ to see the possible impact of the skyscrapers on areas such as Little Venice
She said on Tuesday evening: “The first one (viewpoint0 at Maida Vale looking across the bridge was quite a shock to see to be honest.”
Members also commented on the perceived reduced architectural merit of the new proposals, with the new blocks showing strictly regimented window lines and poorer quality materials used.
Bush said: “The interest in the way that (the previous window design) seems to be lost and what we’ve got is rectilinear starkest – it simply goes up and down.”
Councillor Robert Rigby, who chaired the same committee during the previous administration, while commending the housing benefit from the scheme, criticised its bulk.
He said: ‘The principle of the development as such for a housing led scheme is to be commended. The issue we’ve got here is obviously the height and bulk.”
Others noted that the proposed 39-storey tower would overshadow the already approved but yet to be built One Merchant Square just across the A40 on the Paddington Basin development, which when complete will be Westminster’s tallest building, as well as reducing sunlight on the existing West End Gate block just behind the former Met HQ.
Committee members were joined by local ward councillors in opposing the project. Representing Little Venice, Conservative Councillor Melyvn Caplan said: “I think it’s fair to say in relation to this application, you have an inferior application in architectural terms than the previous one.
“We are not going to argue that adding that many housing units is not a good thing. But you should not be able to do that in spite of everything else, so we would argue that that public benefit does not outweigh the four objections that we put forward.”
Making it’s case for development, Berkeley Homes pointed to reduced footprint of the new proposals and increased public realm, including plans for a new square and garden named Newcastle Place.
Erin Bryant, speaking on behalf of the developer said: “Since the Mayor of London called in the application, we have worked with officers and stakeholders to improve the development solution and public benefits.
“The revised scheme has more slender and elegant buildings providing a better townscape cluster, improved daylight and sunlight, 50% more public realm, and more efficient energy solution, adherence to fire risks and most significantly, more affordable homes onsite and more social renter homes at low income caps.
She added that the developer would ‘in no way shy away from continuing to engage with officers and members of the community’ if the proposals were refused by the GLA .
Main image: Westminster City Council.