A storm is brewing over Irvine Sellar’s plans to build a so-called second Shard in Paddington.
Westminster Labour councillors have urged the council to reject the planning application submitted in November, saying the that proposals have been “rushed” and miss out crucial information such as details on affordable housing.
Sir Terry Farrell, one Britain's leading architects and local Paddington resident, has also spoken out against the scheme this week, calling it "too piecemeal and opportunistic" and proposing his own plans for a mid-rise alternative on the site.
Sellar Property Group and Great Western Developments (GWD), a subsidiary of Singapore’s Hotel Properties, have commissioned Shard architect Renzo Piano to design a 72-storey building on the site of a former Royal Mail sorting office next to St Mary's Hospital.
The new building, coined the skinny shard or the Paddington Pole, will include 200 new homes, more than 100,000 sq ft of office space and 50,000 sq ft of retail - as well as a new and enlarged Bakerloo line ticket hall for Paddington Station.
Sellar and GWD has argued that the £1bn scheme will “greatly enhance” the area and “make a major contribution in revitalising this district”. Consultation is already underway, with a decision expected as soon as March.
However, the proposed tower has faced a fierce backlash from local residents and campaign groups such as Heritage London, Historic England, Queensway Residents' Association, and the Skyline Campaign, over its height, design and the speed at which plans were submitted.
In a long letter published on Westminster Council's planning website this week, Sir Terry Farrell said he didn't object to tall buildings and supported Piano's plans for the Shard. However he argues that Paddington was a "much more sensitive site, given the proximity to Royal Parks, domestic scale squares and terraces and houses in conservation areas, and the closeness of listed buildings.”
Farrell worked with Sellar for two years to create the masterplan for the Paddington site and notes that his plans could have provided over 1,000 homes in buildings no more than 18 storeys in height.
Adam Hug, leader of the Labour group on the Tory-controlled Westminster council, said the developers “need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a scheme that can really respond to residents’ concerns about the proposed design and delivers real benefits for our community”.
“The amount of affordable housing currently proposed is absolutely unacceptable and must be dramatically improved to ensure Westminster residents can benefit”.
He added that Farrell’s proposals showed that its was “entirely possible” to deliver a similar or greater number of housing units at a much lower height rather than building a single, extremely tall tower that impacted the skyline.
"As currently proposed Westminster Labour Group cannot support the proposed scheme and calls on the council to reject the application," the group said.