HL Deb 15 December 1960 vol 227 cc685-6WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the fact that it is now pro-proposed to demolish in a few years' time a large office block in the Harrow Road, W.2, the construction of which is as yet unfinished does not suggest the need for some slight re-examination of our planning procedure.


The noble Lord refers, I believe, to Torquay House, a 9-storey office block which is now nearing completion in Harrow Road, near its junction with Torquay Street in Paddington. The London County Council resolved to purchase this property on December 6 for £480,000, as it stands in the way of the revised route for the extension of Western Avenue from West-way to Harrow Road. This is one of the most important and difficult road improvements planned for London, which is likely to cost, together with the West Cross Route, about £23 million.

It was originally planned to pass well south of the Western Region's main railway line, but this route on full investigation was found to be unsatisfactory in various ways, and Following the first quinquennial review of their development plan, the County Council put forward a new line crossing the Metropolitan railway at Acklam Road, Kensington. and following the southern boundary of the Western Region's main line, crossing it behind Paddington Station.

This second scheme encountered serious difficulties, however, both from the railway operational point of view and also because it involved the destruction of many houses and the splitting of residential neighborhoods. Sixty-three objections were lodged by persons whose homes and properties were affected by it.

Accordingly, the County Council entered into further negotiations with the British Transport Commission, in consultation with the Minister of Transport, and decided to divert the route to the northern side of the main line out of Paddington, which it will cross at Westbourne Park Station, and this new route will affect Torquay House, although it may yet be possible to preserve part of the building.

Permission had been granted by the County Council for the erection of the building in March, 1959, before the difficulties of the southern route had been disclosed.

The action regarding Torquay House has not therefore arisen from any defect in the planning procedure. It has been necessitated by a situation which no one could have foreseen at the time the application to erect this building was approved.

House adjourned at four minutes before eight o'clock.