Developer Sellar asks council for time extension after missing deadline for completing public realm works

Renzo Piano's Paddington Cube at night

Renzo Piano’s Paddington Cube includes a large public realm area outside Paddington station

Parts of Renzo Piano’s £350m Paddington Square development have been delayed by more than a year due to the discovery of several underground structures beneath the site’s public realm area.

The 18-storey cube-shaped redevelopment next to Paddington Station, designed for Liverpool Street station developer Sellar, had originally been given a late 2021 target date for practical completion when it was approved in 2017.

Although the office building on the scheme, which is being built by Mace, is now complete, Sellar and its client Great Western Developments (GWD) have admitted there are “a number of construction implications which are causing unforeseen delays to the programme”.

Paddington Cube 2024 1

The current state of the public realm being built as part of the Paddington Square scheme. The office building is complete.

In a letter to Camden council seen by Building, the scheme’s planning consultant Gerald Eve has asked for an extension of time to complete several elements of the public realm.

The letter, written on behalf of GWD, said the delays have been caused by the discovery of an existing London Underground structure below ground which is having a “direct impact on the public realm works”.

Other discoveries which have affected the works include underground “chambers” and existing power cables, according to the letter.

It also says the late delivery of a design by Transport for London for their traffic signal and crossing works has had a “knock on impact” to approvals from Westminster council.

Under the conditions of the scheme’s planning consent, the 50,000 sq m office development cannot be occupied before the affected public realm works are complete.

But GWD says the underground structures mean it is “unable to carry out certain work or deliver certain aspects within the given timeframes required under some of the conditions”.

The submitted amendments propose pushing back the deadline for completing the public realms’ hard landscaping works, its public artworks and some of its cycle parking spaces by more than a year, from the previously agreed and now missed deadline of 30 April 2023 to the end of this year.

Although the project team insists these works will be finished by April this year, it has asked for a “buffer” lasting until the end of 2024 to ensure that a further amendment to the planning application does not need to be submitted if the deadlines are missed again.

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Three out of four of the artworks, by Catherine Yass, Showroom and Ugo Rondinone, are understood to have been completed and are awaiting installation, while a fourth, by Pae White, is still being created.

Paddington Square has endured a troubled development process since it was first proposed in 2015 as a highly controversial 65-storey, 224m tall cylindrical tower dubbed the “Paddington Pole”.

The scheme was chopped down to 18 storeys, changed from residential use to commercial, and redesigned as a “floating” cube in 2016 following protests from locals and campaign groups due to its location next to Brunel’s grade I-listed Paddington station.

It was also hit by the collapse of its M&E contractor Michael J Lonsdale, which went under in October last year owing creditors £65m.

The scheme will also include a new Bakerloo line ticket hall and a retail and restaurant building on nearby Praed Street.

Both Sellar and Mace declined to comment.