Westminster Labour Councillors are deeply concerned that the plans for the controversial new ‘Paddington Shard’ development might be rushed through by Easter 2016, despite only opening for public consultation on December 14th 2015.
The proposed 254-metre tower (up to 72 floors) on the old Royal Mail sorting office site on London Road next to Paddington Station is designed by architect Renzo Piano for the Sellar Property Group, the team behind the Shard at London Bridge.
The proposals will contain up to 349 new homes, over 100,000 sq ft of office space and 50,000 sq ft of retail and leisure facilities. The scheme has the potential to dramatically regenerate the area around Paddington Station, providing new job opportunities and public realm benefits, but has a number of significant problems, not least the currently proposed lack of affordable housing.
Many local residents are concerned about the height of the proposed building and its impact on the surrounding area. They are not alone in this concern, as according to the Independent newspaper Heritage England have made it clear that they have “very serious concerns indeed” about the proposed project. They have written that “A building of this scale in this location threatens harm, some of its substantial, to many designated heritage assets across a wide geographical area, including listed buildings, registered historic parks and conservation areas…If permitted, this building would be the beginning of a permanent change in the character of a large part of London.”
Labour say the development is likely to have a significant impact on traffic and local public transport that must be fully understood before approval is given. The project must not impede the work at St Mary’s Hospital or its future development needs, and Labour is calling on the applicants to work collaboratively with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to ensure any new development benefits the hospital and its patients.
Leader of the Westminster Labour Group Cllr Adam Hug said;
“This project will have a huge potential impact on Paddington and the surrounding area so it is imperative that Westminster Council takes its time to ensure everyone has a chance to have an informed say on the proposals. The scheme must not plough ahead unless everyone is confident it delivers the best deal possible for Paddington residents and businesses.
At the moment Labour Councillors are deeply concerned that the proposals do not contain any onsite affordable housing, despite planning policy requiring 30% affordable housing provision. The developers must urgently put forward clear plans for a substantial amount of new social and genuinely affordable housing in the local area if the scheme is to truly benefit the community.”
The Paddington Shard consultation documents and contact details are available at 15/11219/FULL on the Westminster Council Planning website http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/simpleSearchResults.do?action=firstPage
Westminster Planning Policy calls for at least 30% of new residential developments to be affordable housing, one of the lowest targets in London, however this target is routinely missed.
Simon Jenkins supports Labour’s concerns in his latest article in the ‘Evening Standard’:
“A plot is afoot to race ahead with a “second Shard” in Paddington over the New Year. If built, it would be 72 storeys — one floor shorter than its sister tower — overlooking west London between Bayswater and Maida Vale.
The developers could be hoping to avoid adverse publicity over the holiday so as to get planning permission at the beginning of March. At that point major planning decisions are suspended in advance of the mayoral elections. They have the support of the Mayor, Boris Johnson, and his tower-hungry deputy, Sir Edward Lister. They cannot trust either of the new mayoral candidates, Zac Goldsmith or Sadiq Khan, to be sympathetic.”