Eight storeys trimmed from building but opponents say decision will open floodgates

A 30-storey tower being developed by Berkeley Homes in west London has won planning after eight storeys were lopped from the height.

Westminster council approved the firm’s 700-home West End Green development next to the fortified Paddington Green police station on Edgware Road at a meeting last night.

The tower has been designed by Squire & Partners, the architect behind the masterplan for the Shell Centre redevelopment on the South Bank, and recently cited Renzo Piano’s Paddington Pole, being developed by Sellar Property, as a precedent for tall buildings in the area

But campaigners condemned the decision and architect Barbara Weiss, leader of the Skyline Campaign which lobbied for a height reduction to 25 storeys, described the decision as “naïve and inappropriate”.

“It will no doubt open the floodgates to many more similar unsympathetic tall buildings,” she said. 

“The planning officer indeed confirmed that it would be impossible for the council to stop this from becoming a precedent for other towers.”

Westminster council disputes this. A spokesman said:  “As was highlighted in the committee report which detailed the application, West End Green is a unique site and so any development granted there was not going to set a precedent.”

Objectors included local MP Karen Buck and Historic England which said it would have a “very serious impact” on the settings of four Royal Parks as well as damaging a number of conservation areas.

Local civic groups objected to the design and “arbitrary” height which they said owed more to commercial than townscape considerations.

But Westminster planning officers said the harm caused would be “less than substantial” – the test in the NPPF – and would be offset by the benefits of unlocking a long-vacant site.

Angus Michie, divisional chairman of Berkeley St Edward, said the site had “blighted the area for 30 years and these proposals will transform it into a new neighbourhood where people can live, shop, work and socialise”.

A Westminster council spokesman said the height had been reduced since the original application in response to local objections.

In its planning statement, Berkeley had argued that Renzo Piano’s 31 London Street gtower “set a new bar for building height in Westminster by some margin… the perception around tall buildings in Westminster appears to be changing, particularly in this part of Westminster”.

The so-called Paddington Pole has since been mothballed after Sellar agreed to look again at the building’s proposed 72-storey height.