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Ambulance access fury as controversial £775m ‘Cube’ development gets the go-ahead

Robert Davis: 'I think the benefits are game-changing for this area'

12 December, 2016 — By Alina Polianskaya

How the Paddington ‘Cube’ could look after the scheme was approved by Westminster City Council on Tuesday night

A MAJOR new development set to transform a large part of Paddington has been given the green light despite “very significant concerns” about ambulance access to one of the capital’s busiest NHS hospitals.

The £775million Paddington “Cube” project was approved by Westminster City Council on Tuesday night with developer Sellar and Great Western Developments offering to install a new access route to the A&E.

But yesterday Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said the 11th-hour offer did not go far enough and “has not resolved” its issues about ­collisions and queueing and demanded “urgent clarification from the council”.

It stated: “The planning decision has not resolved our very significant concerns about continued safe access for ‘blue light’ ambulances to St Mary’s Hospital.

“It is vital, not least for the future viability of our major trauma unit, that this issue is now addressed properly, in partnership with the trust, London Ambulance Service and others with the necessary expertise. We are urgently seeking clarification from the council on the conditions for planning permission, some of which were raised for the first time at yesterday evening’s planning committee meeting.”

The Cube designs involved a major investment into the public realm, including a new ticket hall and entrance for the Bakerloo line station and a public piazza. It would also block vehicles in London Street.

At the meeting in City Hall, Hyde Park ward councillor Antonia Cox said: “The hospital talk of the limited visibility in the proposal, collisions, two blind 90-degree bends, a service bay with limited visibility and incidental queues of vehicles on the emergency access route.”

If the original plans were accepted despite the warnings, she said “our residents will be entitled to ask us why we didn’t listen”.

Cllr Susie Burbridge said she felt the building was an “overdevelopment”, adding, “I simply do not think it fits in.”

She said she would like to see something that is “more of a Leonardo Da Vinci than a Tracey Emin”.

But Robert Davis said the development was a “game-changer”, adding that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” when it came to the design.

“I think the benefits are game-changing for this area. This area is not our proudest part of Westminster.”

In a statement, developer Irvine Sellar said: “For the past year we have worked with Renzo Piano Building Workshop to balance the desires of the community, the constraints of the site and the need for commercial viability, to produce a scheme that will transform Paddington station’s front door and the immediate area around it.

“Not only will we deliver a stunning 360,000 sq ft corporate HQ office building we will be creating a 21st-century transport interchange for Paddington that will dramatically improve the area’s connectivity as well as hugely improving passenger and traffic congestion.”

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