Press release: SAVE Britain’s Heritage blasts “outrageously and gratuitously overscaled” Paddington Cube

5 December 2016

Press release: SAVE Britain’s Heritage blasts “outrageously and gratuitously overscaled” Paddington Cube

SAVE has submitted strong objections against the proposed 54m Paddington Cube and called on Westminster’s planning committee to refuse the application for offices when it is decided on 6 December 2016.

Officers have recommended the scheme for approval despite substantial objections from many local residents and national organisations. In addition to SAVE, objections have been received from Historic England, the Victorian Society, the South East Bayswater Residents Association (SEBRA), and local residents.

Crucially, strong objections have been submitted by St Mary’s Hospital Paddington and the Imperial College Healthcase NHS Trust, both of which consider the proposals would compromise the operation of St Mary’s Hospital.

Like the ‘Paddington Pole’ before it (a 72 storey residential tower proposed in 2015 and subsequently withdrawn in early 2016 in the face of fierce opposition) the Paddington Cube proposes to demolish a handsome Edwardian baroque sorting office, a building of merit within the Bayswater Conservation Area.

Its replacement is a 14 storey (19 storeys when atrium and plant floors are included) glass office block, which will tower over the Conservation Area and surrounding listed buildings - including the next door Grade I listed Paddington Station.

The Bayswater Conservation Area is characterized by its lowrise nature, with a prevailing building height of six storeys or less. The proposed building would be substantially larger than its surroundings, and visible from many views. Approval of this application risks setting a dangerous precedent for buildings of comparable height in this part of Westminster.

SAVE agrees with Historic England’s description of the proposal as, ‘fundamentally at odds with the prevailing character of this part of the conservation area... and [that it] will largely erase the sense of consistency of late Victorian and early 20th century public buildings that make this part of Paddington special.'

In addition to submitting a formal objection, SAVE has written to Westminster City Council to request that Cllr Robert Davis, chair of the planning committee, take no part in deciding this application.

Cllr Davis has been vocal in his support for the scheme in press statements over the past few months, ahead of the planning committee meeting. In an article in the Architects’ Journal in September he was quoted as saying, “This would game-change the area. Praed Street is not one of our better streets and one of the advantages of [the Paddington Cube] is that the whole area can be changed.” He continued, “I call it the ice cube because it’s going to make Paddington the coolest place in London.”

Such comments suggest he has already predetermined his position before the planning committee meeting, failing to take into account the serious and strong objections, or the planning officer’s report. Having taken legal advice, SAVE considers this is unacceptable and that he should take no part in deciding the application.

Marcus Binney, Executive President of SAVE said: “The proposed Paddington Cube is a violation of both Baywater and Brunel’s Paddington Station, a world renowned masterpiece of railway engineering. SAVE successfully fought off proposals to build a row of towers along the eastern flank of Paddington Station, which would have destroyed the fourth span added in 1916, itself a masterpiece and one of the cleverest and most sympathetic extension additions ever made to a great engineering structure.

“The Cube is outrageously and gratuitously overscaled and will be one of the biggest blots on the London townscape for years. It will overwhelm both Brunel’s station and the handsomely restored Great Western Hotel, as well destroying the handsome Edwardian Post Office sorting office.  For years Westminster’s enlightened planning and design policies focused on conserving the character of the Borough, and set an example to the whole of Britain.  If this proposal is passed, as the officers recommend, the Borough of Westminster will be trashing its own once-fine reputation.”

Mike Fox, Deputy Director of SAVE said: “This is an overwhelmingly harmful application which proposes the demolition of a building of substantial charm and character within a Conservation Area, for replacement with an incongruous block alien to its surroundings. This part of Westminster has successfully maintained its lowrise character to date, but this application risks opening the floodgates to further harmful developments of this size.”

Note to editors:

1. For more information please contact SAVE on 0207 253 3500 or

2. The Paddington Cube is a revised proposal which follows the unsuccessful ‘Paddington Pole’ application, withdrawn in early 2016. This was for a 72 storey residential building, which met with fierce opposition.

3. SAVE led the successful campaign to save ‘Span 4’ at Paddington Station in 2006. This would have seen the fourth roof span of the station demolished and replaced with a new concourse area with office buildings above.

4. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architectural historians, writers, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.

Press release issued by SAVE Britain’s Heritage

70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ

Registered Charity 269129

Tel. 020 7253 3500  Email

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