London: The Paddington Cube
A new 19-storey glass tower has just been granted permission by Westminster Council to proceed with construction in Paddington. The new £775 million Cube development by architect Renzo Piano is hoped to bring the area which has been described as ‘tatty’ a new economic boost. The regeneration project will have an acre of green public space with a £2million art piazza along with shops, restaurants, offices and a new access to the Bakerloo tube station. It is hoped this will do for the Paddington area of London what the Shard development did for South London. Great Western Developments expects the project to help control congestion along with creating 4,000 jobs and an investment of £65 million for infrastructure. An original plan for a 72-storey tower known as the Paddington Pole was withdrawn after local citizens complained.
“I think it’s a great thing for Paddington and everybody who uses it says can you do what you have done at the Shard.”
“The Shard has changed the area completely and the same thing will happen here. It will bring tremendous change. It will be in a different way and a different style to the Shard – I never want to do a repeat. It will be a landmark and we won’t stop at this development.”
“There’s a huge amount of work ahead - but that’s what developers are - we look for punishment.”
Speaking to ES London Councillor Robert Davis, Westminster City Council Deputy Leader described the new Paddington project:
“Designed by Renzo Piano, one the great architects of our time, these plans are a game-changer, breathing fresh life into the area.”
“I think it’s a very clever design the way it sits there and the way it’s transparent. It’s like a pure ice cube and something I think is going to add to the area.”
Within hours of the Westminster Councils approval for the new Paddington Cube a senior judge had ruled for ordering a judicial review on behalf of Save Britain’s Heritage. Heritage accused communities secretary of not properly convening a public inquiry on the project and not intervening on a ‘floating’ office block at Paddington Station.
The developer Great Western has plans for London Street to be a non-vehicle pedestrian zone. As a result another group that has joined in the fray are Health Chiefs who have expressed ‘serious concerns’ that the development will be disruptive to ambulances using London Street and South Wharf Road for St. Mary’s Hospital which operates one of the four trauma centres for the city. Already Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust for St. Mary’s has joined with Save Britain’s Heritage and the Victorian Society asking for the project be stopped by secretary of state.
Arguing on behalf of the Westminster Council planning approval Saira Sheikh QC stated that there is no legal reason for challenging the decision made last December since permission has already been given for the development.
At the last moment an agreement apparently was made by developers to to build a new road for St. Mary’s Hospital ambulance access for planning approval.
A Westminster City Council spokesman told the ES London:
"We worked closely with representatives of St Mary’s Hospital and the developers throughout the planning process to ensure that access to the hospital was in no way compromised or restricted by this development.”
"The council believes that the proposed ambulance access route is safe and a significant improvement to the existing access through London Street. There is no evidence to suggest otherwise and this view has been fully supported by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the Mayor of London.”