Travis Perkins site Planning Objection
A planning application has been submitted for the Travis Perkins site proposing the demolition of the existing buildings and erecting a building (plus basement) of between 7 and 22 storeys in height providing accommodation for 843 students. A new Travis Perkins’ builders’ merchants would be on the ground floor of the new building.
We have 5 objections to the proposals, as follows:
- Gross Overdevelopment of the site
The defining feature of the Paddington Basin area is the Canal and the development of new buildings along the Canal should respect this clear and defining context.
The only justification put forward by the Applicants for a building of 22 storeys is that there are already buildings of that size in the close vicinity. Significantly, it suits the Applicants to cite buildings of around 22 storeys in evidence in their favour, rather than the more important and much lower Sheldon Square residential buildings immediately opposite the Baltic Wharf site.
In addition, the Applicants make much of the need for additional student accommodation, but they make no compelling justification for 843 student rooms. Why is it 843 rooms and not, say, 443 rooms? It appears that the Applicants have said to themselves, “Let’s build the tallest building we can and fit in as many student rooms as possible” using the general need for more student rooms in London as their only rationale.
The proposed ‘stepped’ 7–22 storey proposal is a contrived design which inherently admits that it is inappropriate for such an important and sensitive site. The sheer wall at the 22-storey end looks particularly out of scale.
In short, the proposed building is far too massive and far too tall. It is the wrong building in the wrong place.
- Out of scale with the low-rise residential Little Venice section of the Canal
The proposed 22 storey building would ruin the current pleasant Little Venice section of the Canal environment which is characterised by a collection of modern low and mid-rise developments.
This lower-rise section of the Canal is clearly apparent from the Bishops Bridge Road bridge which creates a strong divide between the low-rise part of the canal at Little Venice and the taller office buildings (such as the Brunel building) associated with the Paddington Station area. In this respect, the high-rise Brunel Building should be the last 20+ storey building at the west end of the Canal.
- Creating an overbearing ‘Canyon’ effect
Because of the proposed gross overdevelopment of the Travis Perkins site, the resulting development would create an overbearing and depressing ‘Canyon’ along this part of the Canal. The canal side walkways, cafes and bars would become less enjoyable to visit. The moored barges would be dwarfed and totally overwhelmed by the towering 22 storey building.
The Applicants have already admitted that the lower residential floors of the Sheldon Square buildings would be detrimentally impacted by their proposals. The Applicants claim that these detrimental impacts on residents should be accepted because of the wider ‘regeneration benefits’.
Why should Sheldon Square residents have to bear the brunt of the damaging impacts when they get none of the ‘benefits’? Moreover, these detrimental impacts go beyond the loss of residential amenity and will affect existing Canal side Sheldon Square businesses, as well as Canal walkway visitors.
- The wrong use for the site
While there is support for the retention of Travis Perkins, no justification is made for the proposed major student accommodation development, beyond the general need for London. Moreover, there is no certainty that the predicted need for more student accommodation will materialise. There are serious questions about whether overseas students will still want to travel to the UK for their degrees, whether the government will reduce funding higher education, and whether online learning will encourage more students to save money and stay at home.
There may well turn out to be a need for additional student accommodation in London, but the overwhelming residential need in Westminster is for more homes for those who need to rent of buy a home locally. The site could provide the opportunity for more homes and it is of real surprise that this opportunity is not being taken.
- Not an appropriate location for 843 students
We question whether this is an appropriate location for a massive 843-bed student accommodation block.
Sheldon Square residents have, for many years, lived above the many bars and restaurants that create regular late-night noise and disturbance. The efforts of the Council’s Noise and Anti-Social Behaviour Teams and the local Hyde Park Ward Police team cannot cope with the current scale of noise and ASB. The on-site Management Team are powerless to deal with the regular problems faced by residents.
How can it be reasonable or fair to add a further 843 potential customers to the local bars and restaurants, when it is abundantly clear that the available public and private provision cannot cope with the current demands on their reduced and inadequate resources?
Judith Southern, Md Chowdhury and Paul Dimoldenberg
HYDE PARK WARD LABOUR ACTION TEAM
You can make comments online at https://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/ using reference 21/04536/FUL