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Paddington basin

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Paddington Basin in West London near the canal junction of the Regent’s Canal and the Grand Junction Canal.  The Basin itself, which was opened in 1801, lies in the terminus of the Paddington Arm of the Grand Junction Canal.  In the past, Paddington Basin was an important hub for transhipment activities.  In 1996, a masterplan to redevelop the Basin, lead by Terry Farrell and Partners, was embarked in order to redevelop the Basin into a commercial hub close to the city and west end, and just 15 minutes away from Heathrow Airport, via the Heathrow Express, which runs from Paddington Station.

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Redevelopments on the canal Basin and its surrounding infrastructure are still ongoing, and have had considerable impact on the local community and businesses in the area  (Wikipedia, 2006; Terry Farrell and Partners, n.d.).

Impact of Redevelopment of Paddington Basin on Local Businesses

The redevelopment of Paddington Basin covers more than 80 acres, with 4 million square feet allocated for the development of new commercial space, the building of 1400 new homes, the creation of 4 acres of waterspace and 1000 metres of new towpath, and the arrival of major companies such as Marks & Spencer, Orange, Monsoon, Visa, and WJB Chiltern  (Paddington Circle, Community Safety Audit, 2002, p.


In 2001, the Paddington Regeneration Partnership secured funding under the Central London Partnership’s Circle Initiative from the London Development Agency (LDA) to pilot a Business Improvement District (BID) model at Paddington.  The objective of the project, known as Paddington Circle, is to develop new methods of urban management between the private sector, local authority, and key service providers.  Within this objective is to handle environmental and commercial issues to improve the operation of the Praed Street area and its links with Paddington Waterside.  A Community Safety Audit conducted by the Paddington Circle Board in 2001 provided for the overview of local business owners as to the impact of the redevelopment.  In the Audit, business owners were asked open-ended questions about what they considered as the positive and negative aspects of having a business in the Paddington area.

Majority of the business owners interviewed felt that the most positive aspect of having a business in the area is the location, which is convenient and served by good public transport.  The Paddington area is central with easily accessible amenities with a broad client base which includes tourists, businesses and residents.

The opening of new hotels and the redevelopment of Paddington Waterside also created increased investment opportunities and interest in the area (Paddington Circle, Community Safety Audit, 2002, p. 3).

            The same study reported that the negative views from business owners in Paddington had much to do with the visual appearance of the area.  It was deemed to turn off potential trade, particularly with respect to sales, lettings, and insurance businesses which felt that the visual impact of the area discourages people from moving in.    The other main negative aspects of having a business in the Paddington area, based on the Community Safety Audit, are as follows:

§     Traffic congestion, lack of parking, and one-way system

§     Overall rundown, dirty, and tatty appearance of the area, creating an environment not conducive to trade and business

§     Street drinking, begging, and prostitution

§     Poor security with not enough police enforcement, and poorly lit areas (Paddington Circle, Community Safety Audit, 2002, p. 10-11).

Another point of impact on local businesses is the Paddington Special Policy Area or Policy PSPA1.   The policy encourages area-wide regeneration to ensure that local communities will benefit from the current regeneration of the PSPA.   An example of one of the measures under PSPA1 is the Social and Community Fund, paid for by business owners and developers, in the form of Section 106 Agreements.  Local community organisations are also requested to apply for funding for programs and projects which are deemed demonstrably related to the Paddington redevelopment.  The fund is expected to rise at £8 million per year within 5-10 years (Llewelyn-Davis, 2001, p. 31).

            The Business Improvement District (BID) model in Paddington has significant impact on the role of local business owners and sets certain standards they are expected to follow which are in lieu with the redevelopment objectives for the area.  BIDs, traditionally of American origin and practice, are time-limited, locally-controlled methods for improving the environment and economic performance of a defined area of a town or city.  BIDs are created by groups of local businesses within small areas in order to oversee and fund environmental improvements and to provide a limited number of additional or enhanced local services such as street cleansing, waste removal, security, and non-public services such as marketing.  Current voluntary BIDs in Paddington Basin are in Praed Street, called the Paddington Management Zone.  Although BIDs are ideally through the voluntary initiative of local businesses, the City Council is still expected to monitor the effectiveness of a BID.  BID partners are also required to keep the residential community fully informed of all stages in the development and operation of any BID.  Thus, although BIDs are necessarily business led by their nature, and function primarily in business areas, all parts of the city with local residents in or immediately adjacent to such BIDs continue to play an important role for whatever development plan or program.  Thus, local business owners in BIDs in Paddington must be able to incorporate residents’ needs into their business plans and proposals, and are recommended to consider having residents on their boards.   Likewise, government proposals for projects must actively include property owners, and BID levy are imposed on owners as well as occupiers (City Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee, 2002).

            As of this year, developers in Paddington Basin submitted plans for £700 million office, shopping, and housing project, which has been slated as one of the biggest new developments in the capital.   Paddington Development Corporation, and a joint venture between the billionaire Reuben brothers and Multiplex, the Australian property group, proposed a 1.8 million square feet development in the area which spans six buildings.   The project is planned for the land that was originally earmarked for the Paddington Health Campus.  The latter project, which was supposed to become the country’s biggest private finance initiative hospital scheme, collapsed last year and failed to materialize as a project.   The proposed development also replaces an earlier commercial scheme which had included the Grand Union Building.  The new project, named Merchant Square, has been submitted to the Westminster City Council and includes a mix of offices and shops, in addition to 559 new homes of which 30% are earmarked for social housing (Davey, 2006).

Economical Benefits to the Area

The redevelopment of the Paddington Basin has brought an onslaught of investment from various businesses in the area.   As earlier discussed, the development has brought about the creation of a 4 million square feet of new commercial space, the building of 1,400 new homes, the creation of entirely new public spaces including 4 acres of waterspace and 1000 metres of new towpath, and the arrival of major companies such as Marks & Spencer, Orange, Monsoon, Visa, and WJC Chiltern.   The area covering Paddington Waterside has a resident population of 11,000, although due to the accessibility of the area, a large number of people visit or pass through Paddington daily.   The area has four underground lines, five major bus routes, and the mainline station.  In addition to this, Paddington Basin also has one of the densest concentrations of hotels in London.   The high number of visitors in the area has provided for lively commerce, what with 80,000-100,000 people using Paddington mainline station every day, and 15,000 passengers travelling on the Heathrow Express daily.   In Praed Street alone, there are 1,400 hotel rooms to accommodate the huge number of visitors passing through Paddington.  St. Mary’s Hospital receives 330,000 outpatients annually, in excess of 1,200 daily, and this number is expected to increase with the proposed relocation of the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals  (Paddington Circle, Community Safety Audit, 2002, p. 2).

            The PDSA, which was adapted and later amended through the Unitary Development Plan, has been earmarked as the largest property boom in recent years.   Some of the benefits included for the area under the policy are:

§     Conservation and urban design, including public realm

§     Improvement in transportation, including by rail, bus, and access to Heathrow

§     Improvement in traffic schemes

§     Highway and utility infrastructure, including environmental impact studies

§     Code of construction practice, including environmental inspectorate

§     Liaison and consultation with residents

§     Identifying impacts on City Council services

§     Developing innovative mitigation/integration programmes

§     Operation of three SRBs – London Waterway, New Life for Paddington and Praed Street Circle Partnership (The United Kingdom Parliament, 2002; City of Westminster Unitary Development Plan, 2004).

The City of Westminster Unitary Development Plan (UDP) adopted in 19877, seeks in particular to achieve coordinated and balanced development in the area, with the development plan including:

§     A mix of employment uses including offices

§     A substantial portion of housing

§     Leisure, retail and community uses

§     Development of the highest design quality in terms of architecture, planning and urban design, and with an eye towards opportunities for sustainable development and greening of the area

§     Appropriate canalside development and full public access to the basin and canal, plus enhancement of recreational and amenity value of the canalside area (City of Westminster, Planning & City Development Department, 2004, p. 14).

The New Life for Paddington Program, in particular, is one of the programs under the Paddington Development Trust (PDT) which in turn was established in 1998 to regenerate the North Paddington area.   The New Life for Paddington, which started in 1999, has been successful so far in identifying, promoting, and funding local regeneration projects in the area.   The PDT operates around for key values: a) Mutuality – sharing benefits within the community; 2) Empowerment – creating opportunities for local people; 3) Financial Self-Sufficiency – acquiring an income-generating asset base; and 4) Equal Opportunities for all communities (Llewelyn-Davies, 2001, p. 40)

     These four core values best exemplify the elements of an effective sustainable development plan for Paddington Basin.  The objective is to enable the local community to achieve social and economic independence.  The PDT is organised around four major themes: Health & Community Safety; Young People & Education; Employment & Enterprise; and Capacity Building.  A theme group is assigned for each component, and the group has both appraisal and approval powers for evaluating and funding proposed projects.  A coordinator is also assigned to each theme group with the responsibility of helping individuals and organisations who applying for funding, and in facilitating their contacts with the relevant theme group.   The PDT also strives to remain accessible to the public by accommodating local representatives and stakeholders in the different theme groups.   Direct contact between decision-makers and the community is one of the PDT’s greatest strengths, as well as its independence from the Westminster Council.   A program coordinator acts as liaison between the PDT and the Council to keep each group abreast with each other’s activities (Llewelyn-Davies, 2001, pp. 40-43).

            Much of PDT’s work revolves around preparing the local community to benefit from the major growth and regeneration around Paddington Basin.  The onslaught of development, including new businesses and hotels, is expected to provide for an additional 30,000 jobs in the area as one of the economic benefits of the redevelopment.  The Social and Community Fund is also projected to benefit the local people in the area.   PDT has been involved in over 104 projects with significant economic impact on the local community.  These projects range from small, local business initiatives such as the café on Harrow Road to large-scale development projects such as the Westbourne Studies which offers space for artists and small businesses in the creative and media sector (Llewelyn Davies, 2001, pp. 40-43).

            Local residents have teamed also teamed up with local businesses in helping to develop the area.  Do Something for Paddington Week in 2005 was designed to show the activity of the Pride of Place Programme at Paddington Waterside, and to show corporate community involvement and to further promote involvement in the Pride of Place Programme.  The program was set to highlight the theme of not only corporate community involvement in Paddington, but also volunteering, employability and work experience, local partnerships, and local fund-raising.  Best practice seminars, fund raising activities through dragon boats, barbeques, and performances, and a charity fair, were meant to elicit further involvement for companies, employees, local voluntary and community organisations and individuals (Conway and Jeffreys, 2005).

In sum, the impact of redevelopment of the Paddington Basin on local businesses is that it has boosted trade and businesses, since the area is extremely accessible by public transport, and is a hub of activity involving visitors, businesses, and residents, although some concerns as to the security in the area remains.  Projects and proposals in the area are subject to approval by the City Council, and must always be in consideration of the overall redevelopment initiatives for Paddington Basin.  Local businesses thus voluntarily participating in BIDs must always consider residents’ needs when they submit their bids and development proposals.

            The economic benefits of the redevelopment on the area has provided for an increase in employment opportunities and trade for the people in the community.  Local initiative has also contributed greatly in furthering the development of Paddington Basin.   To ensure sustainable development for the area, it is recommended to adhere to the four key elements specified by the PDT:  mutuality, empowerment, financial self-sufficiency, and equal opportunities for all communities.  The objective in the long run is to ensure that the local community attains social and economic independence.


A Strategic Planning Framework for Community Strategies and Community Based Regeneration.  (November 2001), Llewelyn-Davies, [Online], Marilyn Taylor Associates, Environment Trust Associates, Available from: <http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/planning/docs/plan_framework_comm.rtf.> [7 May 2006]

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) – Final Report.  (17 September 2002), City Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee, [Online], City of Westminster Item No. 5, Available from:

<http://www.londonbids.info/Uploads/circle/scrutiny%20bids%20-%20sept%20final.doc> [7 May 2006]

Chapter 5: Policies for North West Westminster.  (13 December 2004), City of Westminster Unitary Development Plan, Available from: <http://www.westminster.gov.uk/environment/planning/unitarydevelopmentplan/upload/007%20Chapter%205-%C2%A0%20North%20West%20Westminster-%20dec%202004.pdf> [7 May 2006]

Conway, Catherine and Rhian Jeffreys.  (10 August 2005).  Do Something for Paddington Week, [Online] Pride of Place Steering Group, Available from: <http://www.paddingtonwaterside.co.uk/documents/ju12ki/DSFPW%20Report%20100805.doc> [7 May 2006]

Davey, Jenny.  (11 February 2006), Developers to submit £700m Paddington Basin plans, [Online] The Times, Times Online, Available from: <http://business.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,9064-2034504,00.html> [7 May 2006]

Memorandum by the Association of London Government (ALG) (PCP 18).  (9 December 2002), The United Kingdom Parliament, [Online], Available from: <http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmselect/cmodpm/114/114m19.htm> [7 May 2006]

Paddington Basin.  (2006), Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia, [Online], Available from: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paddington_Basin> [7 May 2006]

Paddington Basin Masterplan, London 1996-Ongoing. (N.d.), Terry Farrell and Partners, [Online], Available from: <http://www.terryfarrell.co.uk/projects/masterplanning/mp_paddingtonBasin.html> [7 May 2006]

Paddington Special Policy Area Factsheet.  (June 2004), City of Westminster, Planning & City Development Department, [Online], Available from: <http://www.westminster.gov.uk/environment/planning/majorprojects/paddington/factsheet/upload/PSPA%20Fact%20Sheet%20June%202004%20updated.pdf> [7 May 2006]

Safe.  (March 2002), Paddington Circle, [Online], Community Safety Audit, Available from: <http://www.paddingtonwaterside.co.uk/pdf/Safe.pdf> [7 May 2006]


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Paddington basin. (2017, Jan 22). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/paddington-basin/

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