The junction of the Regent's Canal and the Grand Junction Canal is close to this point but the basin itself is the terminus of the Paddington Arm of the Grand Junction Canal. It was opened in 1801, with Paddington being chosen as the site of the basin because of its position on the New Road which led to the east, providing for onward transport. In its heyday, the basin was a major transshipment facility, and a hive of activity.
The basin is now the centre of a major redevelopment as part of the wider Paddington Waterside scheme and is surrounded by modern buildings. A consortium in partnership with the former British Waterways (now Canal and River Trust) began work in January 2000 by draining the basin. Previously an area with little commercial office space, the basin is now home to a number of companies, such as Marks & Spencer, the Head Office of which is now located here after moving from their Baker Street site in 2004.
Most of the land north of the canal basin is being developed under the banner of Merchant Square by European Land and Property as part of a joint venture between Simon and David Reuben (the Reuben brothers) and the Jarvis family. In all, the development around Paddington Basin will create 2,000,000 sq ft (190,000 m2) of offices, homes, shops and leisure facilities, with the western end being developed first. Paddington Walk is a block of 232 flats designed by Munkenbeck & Marshall that completed in August 2005. The Point (224,000 sq ft) and Waterside (240,000 sq ft) are office blocks designed by Terry Farrell and Partners and the Richard Rogers Partnership respectively.
The original plan for the eastern end envisaged a commercial development focused around the Grand Union Basin and included the Winding building and the Grand Union building. The Richard Rogers Partnership originally designed the latter as three towers of 24, 32 and 40 floors rising to 164m, but the planners imposed a height limit of 100 metres (330 ft). The revised scheme comprised six linked blocks of 30 storeys totalling 860,000 sq ft (80,000 m2) of mixed-use space, but the project was discarded when it looked like the site would be needed by the Health Campus (see below).
The Health Campus scheme collapsed in 2005 and in February 2006 the Paddington Development Corporation - now European Land and Property Ltd - submitted a new planning application. Branded as Merchant Square, this proposed 1,800,000 sq ft (170,000 m2) of mixed-use space spanning 6 buildings, including 554 residential units and 58% commercial space. Planning permission was granted on 1 March 2007. A revised planning application was subsequently submitted and was approved on 19 May 2011. 4 Merchant Square, a 16-storey block of 196 flats, designed by Tryfon Kalyvides Partnership, is now complete; 5 Merchant Square (formerly Carmine) is a 14-storey office block of 255,000 sq ft (23,700 m2) designed by mossessian & partners which is now fully let. Part of the building is occupied by Marks & Spencer, which also occupies the Waterside Building.
3 Merchant Square, a 21-storey development of 159 luxury apartments and 42 standard apartments, was completed in summer 2014. 1 Merchant Square will be a residential tower of 42 storeys designed by Robin Partington Architects, which will be the tallest building in the City of Westminster, containing just over 200 residential units, a 90-room boutique hotel and a sky bar. 2 Merchant Square will be a 16-storey office building providing 162,000 sq ft (15,100 m2) of Grade A space with 4,400 sq ft (410 m2) of retail space. 6 Merchant Square will offer 119 apartments over 15 floors.
Merchant Square is located around a central square. A life-size sculpture in memory of Sir Simon Milton was unveiled in September 2014 by The Rt Hon. Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The sculpture, designed by Bruce Denny, follows Sir Simon's pivotal role in facilitating the regeneration of Paddington Basin. The basin is known for its ingenious pedestrian bridges, such as The Rolling Bridge and the The Fan Bridge, which opened in autumn 2014 and moves with the motion of a Japanese hand fan.
- Canals of the United Kingdom
- History of the British canal system
- List of canal basins in the United Kingdom
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- Paddington Basin YouTube
- Paddington Basin - Canal and River Trust
- Paddington Central
- Merchant Square, Paddington