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High Court rejects legal challenge to Paddington Cube

Heritage groups considering appeal

01 December, 2017 — By William McLennan

How the Paddington Cube building could look

THE High Court has dismissed a legal challenge over the controversial Paddington Cube development.

Campaign group SAVE Britain’s Heritage had asked the judge to review the decision of communities secretary Sajid Javid not to take the final say out of the hands of Westminster Council. The council gave the £775million project the green light in March.

The scheme will see the former Royal Mail sorting office next to Paddington station redeveloped to make way for a 14-storey glass office block.

Save Britain’s Heritage were infuriated not only that the government did not use their powers to “call in” the vast development, but that they also refused to give their reasons, preventing public scrutiny of the decision. They told the judge that

the scale of the development had a negative impact on the local conservation area and said “there were significant architectural and urban design issues raised by this huge and novel structure and the destruction and harm to designated heritage assets which was proposed”.

The campaigners believe that the “massive scale of the proposed square office tower would be a blot on the capital, substantially imposing itself over its immediate neighbours and entirely alien to its surroundings”.

The plans have also been criticised by bosses at nearby St Mary’s Hospital who fear that it will impede ambulances try- ing to enter and exit the A&E department – which is one of London’s only major trauma units.

Mrs Justice Lang, sit- ting at the Royal Courts of Justice, rejected the appeal. She said: “The factors relied upon by the claimant are neither exceptional nor unusual among call-in applications, which frequently raise controversial planning issues in major projects.”

Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage said: “SAVE is disappointed by this judgment which we believe sends out a very negative message about open and accountable decision-making at the very highest levels of government. We continue to believe that ministerial decisions must stand up to robust scrutiny. We are now considering our legal options.”

Marcus Binney, the group’s president, said: “SAVE is giving serious consideration to the grounds for appeal to the Court of Appeal provided by our lawyers.”

A separate judicial review, brought by the hospital trust, is yet to be heard.

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