After fierce criticism from community, the ‘green condom’ is ditched for McAslan’s mixed-use scheme

Architect Will Alsop’s masterplan for Harrow town centre in North-west London has been ditched in favour of a scheme by John McAslan + Partners, after heavy criticism from the local community.

Alsop, who was appointed two years ago by Harrow council to draw up plans for a 5.8 ha site in the centre of town, produced a design centred on Harrow-on-the-Hill Tube station that was ridiculed by the local community as a “green condom”.

Alan Evans, the head of planning at local conservation society the Harrow Hill Trust, said the designs, which centred around a modern transport interchange the length of the hill, had been dubbed “the green condom” and “the green snail” by locals.

McAslan’s new masterplan will not include any transport hubs, as feasibility studies have indicated that a new station would not be economically viable.

Instead, McAslan has applied for planning permission for a £35m mixed-use scheme for developer Dandara. The development will include 300 residential units, retail space, a gym, a crèche and public space.

Keith Burchill, planning, housing and regeneration councillor for Harrow council, said: “Dandara now owns a large part of the land and they have got their own ideas. Designs are always a matter of opinion but we do want a landmark building, something that would be an attraction for the area.”

Alsop Architects was commissioned by the council at the end of 2003 to draw up concept-stage proposals for the transformation of the area around Harrow-on-the-Hill bus and rail stations. The following year, the council appointed a multidisciplinary team, including property consultant Donaldsons, to prepare a masterplan and take the project forward.

Reg Marsh, managing director of Alsop, said: “There was never a promise that the council would take our masterplan forward. It was done to see what was possible in the area. It was just to see how the land could be used. There was no talk of anything further.”