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St Mary’s launches legal challenge against Paddington Cube

NHS trust says is development will delay ambulances getting into A&E

29 September, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

The proposed Cube 

ONE of the biggest NHS trusts in London says it has “no alternative” but to challenge the Paddington “Cube” development in the High Court.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs St Mary’s Hospital, has repeatedly warned the £775million development will risk lives by increasing journey times for ambulances.

The 14-storey glass office block was approved by Westminster Council but now Imperial has applied for a judicial review in the High Court.

Court documents, seen by the Westminster Extra, show St Mary’s fear a proposed new access road in the Cube project would be “inferior to those existing and will adversely affect the ability of vehicles, including emergency vehicles, to access the hospital”.

The court papers said “very significant errors” had been made at a planning committee as “concerns had not been accurately reported or addressed, and this was misleading for members”.

The risk of collisions and safety for hospital users and staff have also been raised by the hospital’s transport adviser AECOM. The London Ambulance Service share the hospital’s concerns. St Mary’s chief executive Dr Tracey Batten has previously stated her “grave concerns” about the impact on her hospital. The designer behind the Cube is Paris-based Renzo Piano. A 110-year- old former Royal Mail sorting office would be demolished and redeveloped as part of the development by Sellar Property Group and Great Western Development Group. Developer Sellar rejects Imperial’s claims.

Last month Save Britain’s Heritage (SAVE) won the right to bring a judicial review into local government secretary Sajid Javid’s decision not to call in the proposals for a public inquiry. Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE, said: “This sepa- rate legal action brought by the NHS trust shows that there are fundamental issues with the planning permission for the Paddington Cube and the way it was dealt with by Westminster’s planning committee.”

SAVE’s action is due to be assessed by a High Court judge on November 1.

John Zamit, chairman of the South East Bayswater Residents’ Association, said: “Sellar’s proposal is flawed. We share the concerns made by the hospital.”

Westminster Labour’s Paul Dimoldenerg said: “If the Paddington Cube goes ahead ambulances heading for St Mary’s Hospital could be delayed with life-threatening con- sequences for patients.

“Westminster Council has been negligent giving planning permission to a development which will endanger the lives of hos- pital patients at St Mary’s.”

A spokeswoman at the NHS trust said: “We have been continuing to engage with the council to seek amendments to the section 106 agreement to address our safety con- cerns. But, as the deadline for applying to make a formal legal challenge was Monday September 25, we felt there was no alternative but to make an application in order to keep all options open. We are still hopeful that we can achieve amendments that address our safety concerns without further legal action.”

A spokesman for Sellar Paddington Limited said: “The access road that forms part of the consent- ed development has been recognised by all public transport authorities, including Westminster City Council’s traffic team, Transport for Lon- don, the Mayor’s Office and independent consultants, as safe. It will be built to adoptable standards and will be the same width as Praed Street.

“Furthermore the new access road is a vast improvement on the existing ‘blue light’ route that utilises London Street, which forms part of an incredibly busy traffic and pedestrian junction by the side of Paddington station, a junction that will become even busier when Cross- rail completes in a little over a year’s time.

“This current ‘blue light’ access route to St Mary’s A&E is a disaster as ambulances travelling virtually the full length of the extremely congested Praed Street from Edgware Road already struggle to reach the hospital in good time. Our route will take a majority of the blue light traffic away from the Praed Street/London Street junction.

“We believe our new access road along the east- ern side the development will be a safer and more efficient route.”

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