The Trafalgar House Plan to Develop the Basin in 1990

An artist's impression of the Trafalgar House plans for the Basin

In February 1992 Westminster City Council granted detailed permission to Trafalgar House Developments and British Waterways for the redevelopment of Paddington Basin. There were 13 acres of land close to the West End office district, linked by the main line railway, four underground lines, and Westway. The attractiveness of this site was enhanced by the announcement from British Rail that they were to develop a direct rail link from Paddington Station to Heathrow airport. It was a glittering prospect.

The developers envisaged opening up the canal to the public on the lines of St Katherine's Dock and Chelsea Harbour schemes. By the middle of the 1990s the whole basin would have been transformed. With all this excitement land values rocketed. For a year or two there seemed no limit to the prices that could be charged for sites around water.
1.2 million square feet of offices were planned; plus 100,000 sq. ft. of shops, restaurants and cafes at ground and lower ground levels, all surrounding the canal basin. Adjoining and above would be 236 residential units ranging in size from studios to four bedroom apartments with private gardens, parking and views over the canal. The Council would gain the draining and rebuilding of the canal basin; provision of funds for the refurbishment of Westminster Community School; highways improvements; the upgrading of subways and a contribution to the local community trust.

The development was to be in three phases spread over five years. At last there seemed hope for the Basin. It would bustle with life again, but as a residential, office and recreation centre. Three acres of water for recreation. Waterbuses, short-term moorings for visiting boats and 1.5 miles of towpaths and foot paths to link the further side of Little Venice directly to the Basin and Praed Street. From being a Paddington secret, hidden and forlorn, the Basin was to become the hub of pedestrian life.


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Updated August 4, 2011