Overdevelopment of old Paddington Green Police Station

Light Easement 

The overdevelopment of this site was drawn to my attention by the residents of the Princesses Louise Close, Winnicott House, Mary Adelaide House, 149 & 151 Church St, Paddington Green who’s HA landlord had given over their rights to light easement in the first phase of West End Gate development, to a previous developer. 

The further development of the site immediately South of West End Gate further takes away any light easement they may have left now, more so with the latest proposal of actually increasing the heights of the three towers on the Paddington Green Police station site, one even taller than the Landmark Tower. The above photo illustrates this well. 

The height and bulk of the proposal also affect the air and light easement to the East of the site, on the opposite side of the Edgware Rd, along Penfold Place & Corlett St, NW1, particularly affecting Miles Buildings which has some of the poorest private rented properties in the City maybe in the whole of Greater London. Please see the above photo again. 

Another area of concern relates to the quality of the accommodation being provided in terms of natural daylight and sunlight. A number of the affordable flats, especially those in the Western elevation of Block K and the East and West elevations of Block J, will have exceptionally low levels of light well below the BRE guidelines. Whilst it is recognised that the provision of recessed balconies will affect light levels to these flats, overall it is considered that these flats will have poor levels of light and outlook, and this is very disappointing given these are the affordable housing units. So in terms of the impact of the proposal on daylight and sunlight to existing neighbouring buildings and those also being raised by the revised proposal, I do not consider that the revisions have addressed the losses of daylight and sunlight to adjoining residents and consider that the increase in the height of the buildings has worsened the impact of the development overall, when compared to the 2021 scheme. So as to maintain my original objection on this ground. 

Finally in regards the bulk and height of the proposal, it also has an impact on the skyline of Little Venice and indeed the Westway has not been considered at all. This is particularly concerning after the protests over the Brunel Building in Hyde Park ward from Little Venice residents. These residents would have expected these concerns to be addressed in this instance particularly as it is in one end of Little Venice Ward. 

The proposal thus fails to provide high quality residential accommodation and is contrary to policy D6 of the London Plan (March 2021) and policy 12 of the City Plan 2019-2040 (April 2021).

Façade Design Inconsistences 

As for the facade design, it does not have any continuity of design with phase I of West End Gate. The changes made are in some respects subtle, but overall has the effect of making the use of metal and glass more prominent as now proposed than the use of masonry cladding elements. Those residents l have met in West End Gate in Bond, Jeremy & Garrett Mansions, have found the facade agreeable to them, so l do not see why this use of orange masonry has been dropped by the developer for aluminium and smaller windows.  

Public realm Design – Misses the subways! 

Whilst I understand the Towers have been squeezed to make more space between the towers between the two proposals for Paddington Green Police station site albeit increasing the height of the three blocks, l am sorry to see no consideration of the landscape to the Marylebone flyover junction and in particular the blocked up subways owned by TfL and managed by the Council which the Towers would be almost on top off in the proposal. 

Increase in the amount of the public realm from 3,553 sqm to 4775 sqm, decrease in play space provision from 1138 sqm to 841 sqm. The revised proposal also includes improvements to the Harrow Road subway. And a complete stopping up of Newcastle Place and partial pedestrianisation of Newcastle Place with the exception of servicing by small vehicles.

It is clearly an opportunity for TfL to invest in these assets along with the developer and bring it up to required active transport standards for all users. 

Housing elements Concerns

The development proposes only 38% affordable housing, below the required 50% on GLA planning policy for land formerly in the public sector (Pol. H5), this is contrary to one of the main objectives for the London Plan. 

The revised scheme increases the total level of affordable housing to 219 units (38% as opposed to 37% by habitable room in the 2021 scheme). The tenure split has also been amended and is now 59.9%:40.1 split social rent to intermediate compared to 48.6%:51.4% in the 2021 scheme, by habitable room. And a slight increased amount of family sized homes within social rent (44% as opposed to 42%). The affordable housing flats are now located in Block J and the lower floors of Block K.  

Shared Ownership Affordability

Concern is raised about the affordability of the 43 Shared Ownership Units. Low cost home ownership is generally unaffordable in a high value area like Westminster to households registered with the Council’s Intermediate Housing Service, either because their incomes are not high enough or households do not have sufficient deposits.

Based on the development’s average proposed pricing this development is knowingly unaffordable to local residents not only in the LSOA (Lower Super Output Areas), ward but the majority of the borough. This proposal’s average prices would also seek to further deepen the level of unaffordability as compared between average wage and house price. Therefore, this proposal is clearly unaffordable, and exclusively priced which would exclude an overwhelming percentage of local residents, and those in the borough. The Council would clearly prefer shared ownership changed to intermediate rent.

The return of “Poor Doors”  

98 social rented homes will be provided within block J (17 storeys), which is a 100% affordable housing block. A further 11 social rented homes, 67 discounted market rent units and 43 shared ownership units will be located within the tower building, block K (39 storeys). The social rented homes will be located on the 1st floor and part 2nd floor. The intermediate homes will be located from part 2nd floor to part 12th floor. Market housing units will occupy the remaining upper floors.

The affordable housing units will be provided with their own separate access arrangements and separate cores. I am not sure this is acceptable in this day and age and l had thought we had moved on from those days and given some of the adverse publicity of other schemes in London with similar access issues, it is regrettable that it is even being proposed here.



Is the Met fit for purpose anymore?

After the devastating Casey Report on the Met prompted by the Sarah Everard abduction and murder, found it “institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic”, it is only natural for us to ask whether the Metropolitan Police “fit for purpose” particularly in a borough like the City of Westminster? 

Unfortunately these issues have been long standing as its over two decade since the MacPerson report called the Met institutionally racists and books like the Broken Yard by Tom Harper on the fall of the Metropolitan Police highlight well the dysfunction and corruption at the Met from cases of the murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan to Partygate more recently.  

One thing is for sure, the Parliamentary & Diplomatic Protection Unit needs moving away from the Met’s orbit after it harboured both Wayne Cozens and Daniel Carrick. Most of the activities of the unit would be based in the borough with the Palace of Westminster and most of the embassies of the world based in the borough, so posing a threat to many women and girls in our City. 

We also hear that the canteen culture from the 1970s and 1980s has not changed much at all at Police Stations like Charing Cross with a front desk, one of the few stations left in the City under the previous Mayor of London, Boris Johnson who closed many of them.  Knowing such a work culture certainly exists does not reassure residents to visit their front desk at all.  

And then of course there minority community issues with Baroness Casey clearly stating that black communities are “over policed and under protected”. Stop and search operations and their disproportionate impact on the black community with the case Bianca Williams & her boyfriend drawing a lot of attention in W9. The indifference to the killing of Yasmin Chkaifi was also telling. She was a victim of violence on the streets of Maida Vale after the MPS had failed to arrest her assailant – even when a stalking protection order had been breached and she notified the police that she feared for her life.  

As a member of Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) during the John Charles de Menezes shooting, l saw first hand internal battles with the Met and the last Commissioner of the Police clearly did not help matters. So starting from the top, a full investigation of her handling of these issues is warranted as well.  

We are also famously reminded by a previous Police Commissioner, Mark Roberts (1972-77)  remarking that a “good police force is one that catches more crooks than it employs” when he launched his anti-corruption drive, sacking and forcing out over 450 officers. We can only wonder how many can we expect this time round.   

The clarity of the report’s findings is such that it can not be ignored by the Met and gives Londoners an opportunity to review its activities and maybe gain the trust of the police again or else it will need to be broken up to better serve Londoners policing priorities. 

This blog piece was published in Westminster Extra weekly edition of the 24th of March 2023 

7th March liberation speech by Bangabandu

My Liberation Hero is Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, otherwise known as “Bangabandhu” in Bangla.  

He is my Liberation Hero, because of his role in the struggle, or the unfinished business of partition of the Indian subcontinent, which was the liberation of Bangladesh, the land of Bengalis.  

I was very small when I saw the full impact of his oratory and leadership. But I can well recollect one particular date when we went to a family wedding in Dhaka and it was quite clear to us young kids that all the adults were keen on something else. They subsequently left us kids at the wedding to go to a mass rally and demonstration where Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was speaking.  

And, if you actually listen to that speech itself, you will see how it inspired a whole nation of people to take the business of liberation into their hands after the electoral victory the previous year in December [1970] which gave them the mandate to walk away from the state of Pakistan.  

As a kid at the time, I did not understand the oratory, but subsequently it was quite clear to me that it expressed 23 years of angst from not recognising Bangla as a state language, the economic repression between East and West Pakistan, as well as the military crackdowns over the 1950s and 1960s by various military regimes, predominantly led from the Punjab in West Pakistan.  

Thus, for a whole host of reasons, I see [Rahman] as a Liberation Hero not only for that generation, but for subsequent generations also.  

The speech he made on the 7 March 1971 at the racecourse in Dhaka is one of the most inspirational speeches made. It is undoubtedly the equivalent of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Speech in the middle of a civil war.  

The important thing here is that it convinced people to make the final push for the forming of the state of Bangladesh, the land for Bengalis. It was by far the most important event I have witnessed – apart from the earlier election, which was which was the first free and fair election that Pakistan ever had in 1970.  

[Rahman] should have been the 1st Prime Minister of Pakistan on the electoral mandate he was given in December 1970. The subsequent military crackdown meant that there was no way out for those in East Pakistan, the numerical majority of Pakistan’s population, where the Bengalis resided. As a result, we had the formation of the state of Bangladesh and [Rahman’s] role in that is quite clear and categorically documented.   

I recommend that everyone watches the speech [Sheikh Mujibur Rahman] gave on the 7 March 1971. It is about 10-15 minutes long. You really do get the sense of power he had behind him and  that he had all those 2,000,000-strong people there under his total command. And they would have done anything at that point if he had told them, which they subsequently did to bring about the liberation of Bangladesh by the end of that year itself. 

Murad Qureshi is a Liberation Central Council member.  

This is a series Liberation is running to raise awareness of people, in history or active today, more or less well known who have made a significant contribution to popular struggles for freedom, against imperialism and for peace, social justice and human rights in the Global South. Who is your Liberation Hero? Get in touch with us at info@liberationorg.co.uk – and if you’d like, tell us a bit about this person, why you think deserve recognition and their story told.

Building a Common Ground for the Co-op Party in London

It was great meeting up with the many colleagues across London involved with the Co-op Party at the London Regional Conference at the Abbey Centre, SW1 including the Chair himself, Ian Adderley. 

I made my contribution on a number of matters in the London context. Firstly the case of work place charging in Central London during the morning session on Transport That Leaves No One Behind as a means of subsidies all the initiatives want and demand.  In the Crime & Policing of London session – a safer London for Everyone, the need for root and branch reform of the Met after all misogyny revealed in recent times ; the political corruption; homophobic investigations; and of course institutionalised racism we find within the Met.

And finally the need to replace both Business Rates and Council Taxes with Land Valuation Taxes  to stop the inequalities in land and property in the UK particularly between ordinary council tax players and oligarch paying a pittance for luxury housing in London. Not surprising as Vice-Chair of the Labour Land Campaign! 

I trust some of these contributions, may make their way to the Co-op Party in London’s Building Common Ground Manifesto. 

Turning St Mary’s Churchyard into another Paddington St Gardens?

Anyone who goes to fashionable Marylebone will know there is a lovely public gardens just off Paddington Street, where shoppers, workers and students use to relax over lunchtime and late afternoons. It use to be a graveyard but has been consecrated for its present use and amentities by the Church Authorities. 

Now we have a similar site in Little Venice known as St Mary’s churchyard not far off from Paddington Green proper. A grandstand or two here, will not go a miss like we have in Paddington Street Gardens, along with an open space chessboard and plenty of benches for the students, shoppers and residents. 

It can clearly be given a sporting theme given at one end of the churchyard we have Little Venice Sports Centre which could be extended out with outside gym facilities as well. 

Before all this can happen we need residents in Hall Place Estate and St Mary’s Mansions on side with making the most of this green space in Little Venice, with their priorities. But first of all the site needs to be consecrated by the council via the Church authorities. And if it could have been done for Paddington St Gardens, l can’t see why not for St Mary’s Churchyard. 

Old Oak Common the new Paddington of 21st century?


If there is one thing Old Oak Common has got as a terminus site for HS2 in London, is numerous rail and tube links across the whole of Greater London and the South East. Some at Old Oak & Park Royal Development Corporation have even suggested it has as many as 13 links with the rest of the South East and Greater London. 

So when the contreversy of the Euston terminus comes up, l have always felt comfortable with Old Oak Common being an alternative if need be. Even with some of the capacity issues, it will anyway be the temporary terminus whilst works still go on in Euston station. 

But let us not forget our West London history. When Paddington Railway station had been built by Brunel for the GWR just over 160 years ago, its connection with what was considered to be Central London was poor but it generated the Underground Tube solution between Paddington & Farringdon. The rest is of course history now as it lead to the birth of Underground rail services in all major cities around the London.  

So l am under no doubt that similar innovation could have seen a solution to the Oak Old Common terminus, if it ever become the end point of the HS2 in London. So that it would have become the Paddington Railway station of the 21st century. 


Time for Workplace Parking Levy in Central London?

With the GLA precept in the our Council Tax expected to increase by almost another 10 per cent this year during a cost of living crisis, you would think that at least the element for TfL (which was doubled) would consider being covered by Workplace Parking Levy (WPL). 

A WPL is a licensing scheme which applies to certain defined workplace parking spaces. The scheme requires employers to pay a charge for the number of parking places they provide that are regularly used by employees. It is a discretionary power made available to the council as a licensing authority by virtue of Schedule 24 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 which provides the framework to implement WPLs.

The idea behind implementing a WPL is to discourage individuals from using private vehicles to commute to the workplace and move them towards walking, cycling or using public transport. The London Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS) released in March 2018 included a proposal to support boroughs that wish to develop WPLs as it will help to meet the Mayor’s aim that 80% of trips in London will be by those means by 2041

A WPL can be developed by boroughs as part of a traffic reduction strategy and any revenue
raised as part of the levy must be re-invested into transport improvement schemes. The scheme can also help fund major transport projects and infrastructure initiatives in the City of Westminster that will help it retain its status as a world class location. Nottingham is the leading authority and thus as a leading example, since the implementation of its WPL 11 years ago, nearly £90 million of revenue has been created and ring-fenced for a variety of transport improvements which has resulted in a mass expansion of public transport services in the city.

The implementation of a WPL would help to achieve environmental objectives such as a reduction in CO2 emissions in the city caused by vehicles and a reduction in congestion on Westminster’s Road network. It would also support Westminster in its journey to becoming a net zero city by 2040 and the Mayor’s aims set out in the Mayors Transport Strategy. 

Indeed it  was incredible should it did not come up during the government negotiations with TfL during the pandemic for its funding, as a means of finding another source of funding outside of annual government grants.

Finally the WPL also get a mention under Transport Levies in the Parliamentary Library publication on local government taxation. 


Ethnic & religious make up of Westminster

The population of Westminster is 205,087 according to mid-2021 population figures published by ONS. It covers an area of 21 square kilometres (8 square miles) and has a population density of 9,545 people per sq kilometres (km2) based on latest population estimates taken in mid-2021. 

According to the Census 2021, the population in Westminster is predominately white at 55 per cent , with non-white minorities representing the remaining 45 per cent of the population. The largest religious group in Westminster is Christian  who account for 37 per cent of the population. 

While the median average age in Westminster in 2021 was 35.9 and the sex ratio is 94 males to every 100 females. 

City of Westminsters biggest minority community is Arab at 7.6 per cent of the population, with Arabic topping the top five languages other than English in the City. 


Happy 160th birthday Tube but…..

Happy birthday greetings are certainly due to the Tube system in London started 160 years ago between Paddington and Farringdon to connect up GWR Paddington Railway Station to Central London by Metropolitan Railways.  But after the rains yesterday, the state of the old line needs to be looked at urgently as illustrated on platforms 5 & 6 in Baker Street Tube station. 

The penetration of rain water is obvious through the walls and ceiling from the Marylebone Rd road above, when you look along platform 5 & 6.  This regularly happens when there is a heavy rainfall. 

The last time is was refurbished l was still at school locally and passed through the station regularly. Those works were completed in 1984 and it seems, particularly in the 21st new century, it was been regularly leaking when we have had heavy rains. It appears the frequency of this has increased as the infrastructure of the walls and ceilings can not deal with the intense rainfall we have as a result of climate change. This urgently needs repairing and refurbishing to see the world first underground railway line get to the end of the present century. 


The day Pele came to Paddington

With the recent passing of Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento), like many of the boys l grew up with, in the neighbourhood immediately remembered the day, the king of the beautiful football came to Paddington. 

For most of the 1970’s when young boys were kicking a ball around in the school yard and playing fields of London, we were all doing a “Pele” involving either his many assortments of flicks and dummies or samba dancing on the ball. So when we heard he was in town to visit the local Boys Clubs, we did not hesitate to race over to the venues. This was of course all done by word of mouth, rather than via social media as one would today, and amazingly it managed to get all the boys out in the locality and further afield. 

His first stop was of course the Stowe Boys Club, on the Harrow Rd, W2 just off Westbourne Green and not too far from Royal Oak tube station.  Here he performed some small miracles. With a double breasted suit and tie on, he was still able to do his assortment of flicks and samba dancing on the ball! While we were still struggling in our shorts….. It came with ease to him certainly while he kept us all fully enthralled.  He then made his way to the North Paddington Boys Club on Lanark Rd,W9 where people like Sal Khan still remember how he spoke to them with a strong Brazilian accent still. 

The Paddington Boys clubs had also themselves produced a few football stars as well, like John Barnes, who went on to play for Liverpool & England. During the late 1970s he would have been tuning his fine first touch at Stowe Boys Club before joining his first club in Watford. Iconically he could not play football at his school, Marylebone Grammar School. As it played rugby not football, and he joined Stowe Boys Club to not only marshall his skills but fondness for football.   

We were of course accustomed to our footballing heroes being seen around and about Paddington, after all the Football Association (FA) was for many years based in Lancaster Gate before moving to Soho and then eventually Wembley.  A location we frequently went to for autographs of our stars. I once got one of George Best there! Little did we realize it was more often than not our footballing heroes  who were going up to the disciplinary Committees of the FA. But that did not take away from the prize of their autographs on old programmes or football tops. 

But Pele was in a completely different league, having won three World Cup winners medals, he was truly a legend. A global superstar who even in the late seventies and early eighties after the peak of his career in the 1970 World Cup final in Mexico City could still pull a huge audience. Critically he played a key role in the creation of a national identity in the country of immigrants, indigenous people and descendants of slaves, which Brazil happily exported to us all. 

May he rest in peace now after giving so many of us such joy in our youth. It was a day many of us have not forgotten for sure as every boy in Paddington was there and beyond #RIPPele 

The piece as it appeared in the Westminster Extra below in the week beginning the 6th of January 2023