The Paddington Basin Master Plan in 1997
In May 1997 Farrell & Partners produced a Paddington Basin Master plan to revitalize the neglected waterfront area which lacked 'public activity, permeability and a sense of place'. For two hundred years Paddington Basin has blocked the way in all directions, Created as a place of work, only those employed there had access, while everyone else had to skirt round the complete Basin. When the canal trade collapsed in the nineteen sixties, the Basin was still a barrier. Then, in 1970, Westway sliced through the area, turning Paddington Green into a motorway nightmare, inhuman and dangerous. Now, at the end of the century, Paddington Basin was to become the hub of pedestrian life, reuniting a district long chopped into little pieces. What a splendid way to celebrate the bicentenary of the canal.
The Basin would open up the area so that it would be possible to enter the basin from Praed Street and walk on either side of the basin to Little Venice. North/south, one would be able to walk from St. Mary's Church, across Harrow Road by pedestrian crossings under Westway, down a refurbished Hermitage Street, across the canal footbridge, to Praed Street and Paddington Station. It would be the way to the shops in Edgware Road, to railway stations and to St Mary' Hospital. It would also open miles of car-free tow path for walking and exercise.
The City Council wharves, used originally for the collection and distribution of rubbish, had long been only a depot for the street-cleaning vehicles. Now these would be garaged elsewhere and North Wharf Road would become a cul-de-sac with entrance at the further end only. The eastern end, near North Westminster Community School would become an open piazza.
The refurbishment of the basin was designed to be robust and appropriate to canal-side environments, with the towpath in York Stone and Granite sets. and some lengths of pedestrian towpath boarded.