117-125 Bayswater Road is a charming row of Victorian and Neo-Renaissance buildings facing Hyde Park.
In 1977 they were featured in the Hollywood blockbuster Valentino, starring Rudolf Nureyev and are the only remaining row of narrow plot buildings facing Hyde Park.
View from Hyde Park, across Bayswater Road (March 2017). Source: Google Streetview
The oldest, the Black Lion Pub, dates back to 1704 and is one of 3,100 pubs to have closed in London since 2005, despite turning a £700,000 profit in its last year of operation.
2009: View from Hyde Park, across Victoria St looking south.
View from Hyde Park, across Bayswater Road facing north (2016). Source: Google Streetview
In her assessment of the proposal, area planning officer Sarah Whitnall advised the Westminster Planning committee:
’The demolition of all existing buildings is considered to have a harmful impact upon the architectural, historic and aesthetic characteristics of the Queensway conservation area (designated in 2002)’.
View from Bayswater Road looking east (May 2016). Source: Google Streetview
Any approval of such plans, she cautioned, would put council ‘in breach of Section 72 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
The act decrees where a proposed development ‘will lead to substantial harm or total loss of significance of a designated heritage asset, local planning authorities should refuse consent’.
The Black Lion Pub facing east along Bayswater Road (June 2010)
Shockingly, the committee, chaired by Councillor Robert Davis, ignored the advice from their own planning officer and objections from mayor Boris Johnson by voting unanimously to approve the demolition and redevelopment on 12 April 2016.
Davis later resigned in disgrace after a 2018 investigation found he breached the code of conduct by accepting 514 gifts from developers seeking planning approval over 3 years.
The row covered in scaffolding, awaiting demolition (June 2019)
However planning approval remains in place and the buildings are covered in scaffolding, awaiting imminent demolition.