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Former Royal Mail sorting office threatened with demolition to make way for Paddington Cube

The Victorian Society calls on Westminster City Council to reject demolition of
former Royal Mail sorting and delivery office to make way for Renzo Piano’s ‘Paddington Cube’

Paddington former Royal Mail sorting and delivery office

Paddington's handsome former Royal Mail sorting and delivery office with its distinctive Baroque detailing is one of many important structures around Paddington Station reflecting the development of the railways in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when Paddington became one of Britain's great railway termini.

The sorting office was recognised by Westminster City Council as a ‘Building of Merit' as recently as 2010. The Council described it as "an attractive unlisted building [that] occupies a key position between Paddington Station and St Mary's Hospital and [...] an important link to the historical auxiliary uses of the station."

Sadly the same Council is now considering allowing its demolition to make way for a new residential tower nicknamed the ‘Paddington Cube' - in place of the previously rejected Paddington Pole - a proposal being opposed by the Victorian Society.

The Victorian Society's Senior Conservation Adviser James Hughes argues that "Demolition of the locally listed Royal Mail sorting and delivery office would affect views from Praed Street and from the station as well as cause substantial harm to the character and appearance of the Bayswater Conservation Area. Its loss would harm the setting of many listed buildings - Grade I listed Paddington Station but also the Great Western Hotel, the entrance to Paddington London Underground Station, Tournament House and the Mint and Clarence Memorial Wings of St Mary's Hospital."

There are parallels between this and a similar application in 2013 by King's College London to demolish a small group of historic buildings on the Strand, which was rejected on the basis that the loss of a single building could be seriously damaging.

The Victorian Society believes that the public benefits of the Paddington Cube could be delivered without the demolition of the Paddington sorting office. It urges Westminster Council to refuse consent and to use Paddington's architectural heritage to enhance local redevelopment rather than to undermine it.

he architecturally impressive former Royal Mail sorting and delivery building is one of many important structures reflecting the development of the railways at Paddington Station in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

It was recognised by Westminster City Council as a ‘Building of Merit' as recently as 2010. The Council described it as "an attractive unlisted building [that] occupies a key position between Paddington Station and St Mary's Hospital" and "an important link to the historical auxiliary uses of station."

Sadly the same Council is now considering allowing its demolition to make way for a new residential tower nicknamed the ‘Paddington Cube' - in place of the previously rejected Paddington Pole - a proposal being opposed by the Victorian Society.

James Hughes, Senior Conservation Adviser at the Victorian Society, argues that "demolition of locally listed Royal Mail former sorting and delivery office would cause substantial harm to the character and appearance of the Bayswater Conservation Area and would harm the setting and townscape around Grade I listed Paddington Station and the many other listed buildings around the station such as the Great Western Hotel, the entrance to Paddington London Underground Station, Tournament House and St Mary's Hospital.

There are parallels between this and a similar application in 2013 by King's College London to demolish a small group of historic buildings on the Strand, which was rejected on the basis that the loss of a single building could be seriously damaging.

The Victorian Society believes that the public benefits of the Paddington Cube could be delivered without the demolition of the Paddington sorting office. It urges Westminster Council to refuse consent and to encourage the applicant to develop a scheme that capitalises on Paddington's architectural heritage rather than one that undermines it.

Monday 14 November, 2016

More recent item: Scarborough Council approves demolition of former Conservative Club despite heritage opposition
Earlier item: Plan to build in courtyard of listed Liverpool social housing opposed

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