The north Paddington area has been separated by large pieces of infrastructure over time including the railway, the canal, and the Westway. There are only a few safe places to cross these, meaning that it is difficult to walk and cycle to nearby neighbourhoods, and communities are missing out on opportunities to access places that are nearby. The area is made up of places with distinct characters but sometimes feels fragmented and incoherent.
In several locations the Westway and Harrow Road create a poor environment for pedestrians and cyclists, as shown here on the path between Royal Oak station and Westbourne Bridge.
There is a significant amount of anticipated development in the area. A strategic approach to public realm improvements could help to create coherence across old and new places and build on some of the improvements already carried out in the area.
Lighting is inconsistent across the area – it is difficult to distinguish between public and private areas. Bright lantern effect from buildings and commercial frontages within Paddington Central contrasts with the unlit towpath and north side of canal near Stone Wharf
The project team are developing concept ideas for projects whilst testing and refining a strategic vision for the area. The proposals will provide a holistic approach and guidance for future growth and development in the North Paddington area.
The Paddington Places project aims to:
1. Create better crossings for pedestrians and cyclists across the railway, the canal and the Westway
2. Improve and activate under-used public spaces to provide local amenity – with works to adjust roads to create more high-quality space for local people
3. Create new and better routes for pedestrians and cyclists that tie into existing and proposed walking and cycling networks across the wider area and between key neighbourhoods and destinations
1. Westbourne 'Gateway'
The junction of Westbourne Terrace and Harrow Road was reshaped by the arrival of the Westway in the 1960s prioritising vehicle movement over pedestrians and cyclists. This has created problems in this area including disconnected neighbourhoods and places bounded by infrastructure. The junction has few crossing locations and a poor-quality environment for pedestrians and cyclists.
Here proposals could reduce the dominance of vehicle traffic by introducing new signalised crossings, and new cycling lanes. This could better serve both strategic cycle movement and local pedestrian routes, both north-south along Westbourne Terrace and east-west from Royal Oak to the canal via Kingdom Street.
Environmental upgrades could potentially reclaim and transform this place into a better space for local residents and workers. Hard and soft landscaping improvements and new lighting could focus on improving the space under the Westway as well as the entrance to Westbourne Green and up to Kingdom Street.
The proposed 5 Kingdom Street development offers the opportunity for a more accessible route through to Paddington Central.
Creative community space amongst infrastructure - Urban Playground, Boston © National Development
New route with artistic ground patterns - Superblock of Sant Antoni, Barcelona © Del Rio Bani
New green landscape with seating/viewing spaces Baakenpark, Hamburg © Leonard Grosch
2. The Canalside
The canal is an asset to the area as an ecological corridor, as well as for leisure and providing open space. Although mostly accessible, some areas are not and feel disconnected from the locale. Both Paddington Central and Merchant Square have introduced significant public realm improvements along the canalside.
The towpath alongside Rembrandt Gardens to Travis Perkins is underused and suffers from poor accessibility and connectivity to the rest of the area. Poor quality and inconsistent lighting along this route contrasts with the bright lighting on the other side of the canal at Paddington Central.
The main opportunity along the Canalside is to provide a safe, continuous, and accessible towpath from Rembrandt Gardens to Paddington Basin. This could be achieved by re- surfacing the existing towpath where needed, while protecting existing trees and historical assets, and by creating a new section of towpath along the existing Travis Perkins site.
New wayfinding objects could help navigate the canalside and new sensitive lighting could ensure safe journeys while respecting the local wildlife. Soft landscaping upgrades and additions would be greatly beneficial to enhance existing biodiversity and improve underused spaces for people to sit and enjoy the canal.
Any improvements must seek to safeguard the operational moorings. The complex operations on the canal require coordination with the relevant stakeholders, from landowners to Canal & Rivers Trust and the commercial and residential moorers to safeguard their operations.
Low-level sensitive lighting - Jørpeland, Norway © Light Bureau
Simple wayfinding paving - Stratford Wayfinding © Thomas Matthews
Quiet spaces with planted pergola - Ravenscourt Walled Garden, Hammersmith © Stephanie Sadler
3. Harrow Road Gyratory ‘Old Dudley Grove’
The gyratory is dominated by vehicle traffic and is currently a hostile environment for both pedestrians and cyclists. The current layout creates barriers to movement, in particular north-south connectivity. The existing crossing at Hermitage Street is important and well used, but struggles with visibility issues and to capitalise on wider connections to local destinations.
The enclosed space created by the Westway structure suffers from poor visual connections to other areas such as the canal. Poor legibility is compounded by insufficient wayfinding and poor quality lighting.
The key objective here is to rebalance the gyratory to create better quality environments for walking and cycling and to reduce traffic dominance. Key to this is to establish a comfortable and accessible pedestrian and cycle link from Bishop’s Bridge Road and Hermitage Street, to Church Street that safely crosses Harrow Road.
New signalised crossings would be key in facilitating the route and reducing the impact of traffic at the gyratory on pedestrian and cycle movement. Improvements and expansion of green spaces could help soften the infrastructural character of the Westway and create a healthier and safer environment for cyclists and pedestrians.
New active uses in under-used overpass spaces – Bentway, Toronto © Nic Lehoux
New pedestrian and cycle routes with integrated planting - Aménagement Rue Garibaldi, Lyon © Jacques Léone
Soft planting to counter ‘hard’ industrial character - Shanghai MOMA Museum Waterfront Park © YIYU
4. Paddington Green and St Mary’s Churchyard
Paddington Green, St Mary’s Church and the Churchyard are an important heritage asset. They are established spaces but suffer from being disconnected with the surrounding area. The Westway has reshaped their historic footprint and is a barrier to north-south connectivity.
Working with St Mary’s Church would be vital in understanding how these landscapes could be brought back into more active use and better link to other local places.
Sensitive landscape improvements that respect the character of the historic landscape could bring spaces into more active use, particularly at St Mary’s Churchyard by introducing activities that fit the community needs from educational to natural play. Further areas of soft landscaping could complement and reference the historic landscapes along the route to Church Street and potentially link to the Green Spine proposals, resulting in a strategic green ribbon. Such additions could help improve the Westminster College forecourt to better connect it with the historic landscapes.
Improvements to make the existing pedestrian route via Church Yard Walk able to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists could link to the strategic route between Bishop’s Bridge Road and Church Street.
Improvements to the existing subway entrances could include better lighting and measures to increase safety and comfort. This could greatly benefit north-south connectivity whilst integrating into new development at each end.
Characterful new ground materials - Bonn Square, Oxford © Graeme Massie Architects
Segregated pedestrian and cycle paths in historic context - Hyde Park © Tom Turner via Landscape Architects Association
Environmental educational and play spaces - Regenstein Learning Campus, Chicago Botanic Garden © Mikyoung Kim Design 2020
5. Marylebone Flyover - Edgware Road and Cabbell Street
The completed TfL Safer Junction project and soon to be delivered SuDS scheme are reshaping the four corners of the Marylebone Flyover junction to improve safety and create a better pedestrian environment.
The spaces underneath the Marylebone Flyover are currently isolated and underused. They do not suit the expected experience of such a busy metropolitan interchange. This is further worsened by the poor street level connectivity between the two Edgware Road stations, not necessarily in terms of interchange rather in terms of directional clarity and intuitive connections. The junction is expected to continue changing over time as more development is coming forward at each of the four corners.
As this junction is transformed over time, this project offers the opportunity to add further public realm improvements. Initially as early win interventions to tie into the TfL SuDS scheme, including additional soft landscaping and the introduction of wayfinding structures and lighting to create clear routes and landmarks.
Improvements outside the Cabbell St station entrance could help create a better public space for pedestrians, cyclists and station users.
A longer-term vision that includes the public spaces at the four corners of the junction could help to steer proposals as development comes forward. Active uses could be incorporated under the flyover to create a safe and engaging environment that references local activity.
Well-lit community/market space - Besiktas Fish Market Refurbishment, GAD Architecture © Alp Eren
Characterful wayfinding structure - Tooley Street Triangle, Charles Holland © Jim Stephenson & Luke Hayes 2020
SuDS retrofit scheme - Grey to Green, Sheffield © Nigel Dunnett