Neighbours stand up to huge office block scheme

Residents say 21-storey development ‘would stick out like a sore thumb’

Friday, 3rd January 2020 — By Tom Foot

Paddington central office block

An illustration of how the office block could look

A NEW 21-storey office block will “stick out like a sore thumb” and “make a mockery” of a ­conservation area, campaigners have warned.

British Land’s planning application, due to be decided by councillors on Tuesday, claims its “warm terracotta” designs for prestigious 5 Kingdom Street would blend in with “cool colour tones” of other tall buildings in rebranded Paddington Central.

But dozens of residents and campaign groups have objected to it, warning of “unacceptable” colours, “wonky” windows and skyline-dominating bulk.

Historic England has also objected, warning the “very different” designs would cause a “harmful clash of character” with “the historic townscape”.

The South East Bayswater Residents’ Association (SEBRA) has complained of “excessive height and bulk”, adding that the proposed 21 storeys “exceed by far the height of the rest of Paddington Central, and will stick out like a sore thumb”.

On the design, it said: “We do not like either the design or the proposed colour of the building, which gives the impression of seeking to make the building as conspicuous as possible”, adding: “It should be as inconspicuous as possible.”

The Maida Vale Society said in its objection the development would be “an overbearing blot on the already unhappy landscape”.

Hyde Park councillor Antonia Cox complained the scheme would be “twice the height of adjacent Novotel” while Cllr Melyvn Caplan, from Little Venice, said it was “too high, bulky and the wrong colouring”.

And Bayswater councillor Mary Carman said the “blocky design is unattractive”.

The site is being primed for development after construction of Crossrail is completed in Paddington.

British Land is working on the Paddington project with Chinese property developer CC Land, which also owns the “ 9” and other ­“trophy” buildings across the capital. Its application states that the the use of “contrasting materials and colour” would accentuate the block’s “twisting appearance” and add a “further dimension to this concept of dynamism”.

Planning officers at Westminster Council have rejected the scheme, meaning councillors on the committee will have to overrule their own expert advice to approve the scheme, which would include a 250-seat cinema, ­community space and food market.

But council officials said the scheme should be “recommended for refusal” because of “height, mass, location and design” and “the proposed public benefits are not considered to outweigh this harm”.

They also had concerns about impact on light to homes in Westbourne Terrace Road and Warwick Crescent.

The developer’s planning statement said: “5 Kingdom Street represents the final piece of the masterplan for Paddington Central”, adding: “It seeks to be the catalyst to this regeneration physically, through a new connecting route and public garden, and economically, by linking Paddington to North Westminster and creating employment and training opportunities for local residents.”

The developer’s design statement said the colour tones were “warm” and “more ­muted than bright”, adding: “The proposed building will create a dynamic and memorable building of ‘landmark’ quality. The proposed scheme will deliver a unique combination of cutting-edge flexible workplace offer with extensive public amenities, public realm spaces, and improved neighbourhood connectivity.”

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