• Paddington plaza revealed

More than an acre of new public realm has been promised as part of the redevelopment of 31 London Street, the former Royal Mail sorting office site in Paddington.
Bought by Singapore-backed Great Western Developments for £111m, the site has already been planned to a design by Renzo Piano Workshop, with Sellar Property Group appointed development development manager for the scheme. A planning application is promised for later this year.
The centrepiece of the proposals is a 65-storey tower, while the project aims to include more than 200 homes, 150,000 sq ft of office space and 50,000 sq ft of retail. And there will be improved access to the Bakerloo underground line.
“We believe this exciting proposal will tap into the potential of Paddington and will prove to be a major catalyst for the continuing enhancement of the area, especially Praed Street – in much the same way that The Shard did for London Bridge,” said Irving Sellar.
“This site shares much of the same DNA with its proximity to a major transport hub with tube, railway lines and bus routes, a neighbouring leading teaching hospital and the potential to provide much needed quality public realm.”
Renzo Piano, of Renzo Piano Building Workshop, added, “The creation of urban public realm has been at the forefront of our design. The current public realm in Paddington is poor, with congestion in and around the entrance to the Bakerloo line leading to frequent closures. This scheme looks to remedy those issues, while creating a wonderful sense of place which Paddington greatly needs.”
The one acre plot was sold in October 2014 to Great Western Developments, a vehicle owned by Singapore real estate company Hotel Properties. The plot fronts Praed Street to the south, London Street to the west, and Winsland Street to the north and east. The site is also currently bisected by Windland Mews.
The plot came with a resolution to grant planning permission, on a mixed use scheme previously put forward for the site by Royal Mail. That proposal was to retain the 1907 facade of the Royal Mail block on London Street, behind which an eight storey office block with ground floor retail was proposed. Also included were residential blocks of up to nine storeys, containing a total of 128 homes.
The now privatised organisation has included an overage agreement in the sale, requiring additional proceeds should Hotel Properties sell on the site within two years of completion at a profit.

LPA Perspective: Paddington station is a major terminus in the capital and sits at the heart of the Paddington Opportunity Area. And while the train shed is an impressive structure, it sits uncomfortably with some of its immediate neighbours. Indeed, the station doesn’t really have a public face, as that is taken up by the Hilton hotel. Attempts to link with the Paddington basin and redevelopment there have been somewhat thwarted by existing local occupiers including the massive St Mary’s Hospital.
So this opportunity to open up a large slab of space alongside the front of the station promises to provide Paddington with a proper entrance, a new public square and to ease pedestrian circulation in the immediate area.
It also promises to, finally, give Paddington a recognisable architectural landmark. While there has been much new development around the basin, and at Paddington Central, there are no architectural treasures. And with Paddington a key Crossrail station, there is logic in creating denser development around the immediate area of the station.
At the other end of the Paddington basin, we were promised The Cucumber, a 42 storey residential tower; but despite receiving approval in 2011, landlords European Land were said last summer to have asked agents to see if they can sell the site.
With the proposal backed by the winning team of Sellar and Piano, who have delivered at London Bridge, Westminster planners ought to seize this opportunity. The west London version of the Shard could become equally as famous as its eastern cousin, and really put Paddington on the map as a new business area.

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