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Stop Paddington Cube: our call-in to the Secretary of State

The Victorian Society is appealing to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid MP, to call-in the controversial Paddington Cube application to be decided via an independent public inquiry.

Paddington Royal Mail Sorting Office, to be demolished to make way for 'the Cube'.

Following the approval of the project on 6 December by Westminster Council, the £775 million ‘cube’ office block is one step closer to being realised, a development that would irrevocably damage a key London Conservation Area.

The approved plans grant Sellar Property Group planning consent to demolish the Baroque Edwardian former Paddington sorting office to make way for the colossal 19 storey mega complex. Built in 1907, the sorting office was recognised by Westminster Council themselves as a ‘Building of Merit’ as recently as 2010, and yet has now been approved for total demolition.

The approved planning permission comes despite huge opposition from heritage groups, individuals, and even the London Ambulance Service. Not only will the cube destroy a building of significant interest, but it will also affect a major ambulance route to St Mary’s Hospital.

Furthermore, the former Chair of the Planning Committee, Cllr Davis, made several comments regarding the plans which suggest he may have predetermined his position prior to the committee meeting on 6 December 2016.

Comments such as, “I call it the ice cube because it’s going to make Paddington the coolest place in London,” which featured in a September article in the Architects’ Journal, suggest Cllr Davis supported the project prior to compiling all the information, including several strong and valid objections from many parties. This seriously undermines the recent decision and goes against the very purpose of the planning committee process.

James Hughes, Senior Conservation Adviser at the Victorian Society, says, “This approval is astonishing. The scheme is very controversial and has flagged many legitimate concerns from heritage groups and the general public. Not only does it involve demolishing a locally listed building of great historical and architectural interest, but the proposed cube would also harm the setting of many locally listed buildings, such as the entrance to Paddington London Underground Station, Tournament House and the Mint and Clarence Memorial Wings of St Mary's Hospital."

We believe that the public benefits of a Paddington Restoration Project could be achieved without the demolition of the sorting office and will continue to fight to develop a new scheme that capitalises on Paddington's architectural heritage rather than undermining it.

James Hughes, Senior Conservation Adviser at the Victorian Society, says, “Such a high level of harm has not been demonstrated to be strictly necessary in order to deliver the scheme’s public benefits and therefore cannot be justified. The majority of the essential public benefits, such as the addition of a new underground station entrance and ticket halls to relieve congestion, can ultimately be achieved without the construction of an unavoidably dominant and excessively imposing structure.”

 

Support our decision to call-in this destructive decision by signing this petition and help save London’s heritage! 

Friday 6 January

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