Campaigners welcome pledge to re-examine Paddington Place skyscraper project


Campaigners have welcomed the decision to revise plans for a new 72-storey skyscraper in London.

Paddington Place - dubbed the Skinny Shard and the Paddington Pole, was to have been 254m (830ft) high, making it the fourth highest building in the capital and not far short of the 306m (1,004ft) Shard, the tallest building in western Europe.

But developers Irvine Sellar, Great Western Developments - the company behind the Shard - and Westminster City Council on Saturday agreed to re-examine the plans following concerns raised by campaigners and Historic England.

The scheme, the largest regeneration in Westminster, would create a new gateway for Paddington station and St Mary's Hospital. Plans would see improvements to the rail station and a new Tube station on the Bakerloo line, as well as offices, restaurants, around 330 homes and an open-air "sky garden".

But it has attracted widespread criticism, with opponents saying it would be a blot on London's skyline.

Following the decision on Saturday Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: "This is good news. London's skyline is unique, iconic and loved. It has to be managed sensitively and with proper planning.

"Tall buildings can be exciting and useful. But if they are poorly-designed, or in the wrong place, they can really harm our cities. We trust that the revised plans for Paddington Place will take the area's unique character into account.

"Westminster is home to some of the most valuable and sensitive built heritage in the world, and this heritage is essential to London's economic, as well as cultural success. Cities that inspire and raise the spirits are the ones that can hope to be creative, happy and successful in the future."

Protesters from the Skyline Campaign are among those who have spoken out against the plans, saying the tower would "shatter London's historic skyline, blight protected views and alter forever local character".

They say on their website: "This proposal does not comply with Historic England's advice, nor with the interests and will of local residents and businesses, or of those of many concerned Londoners and visitors who are waking up to the recent proliferation of poorly conceived towers in the capital."

Philippa Roe, leader of Westminster City Council, said: "This is a very positive step and will allow time for us all to bring forward a development that enjoys broader community support and that we jointly believe will deliver enormous benefits to Westminster and London.

"We remain committed to ensuring that all the benefits of the original scheme are retained in the revised plans."