The Royal Mail Sorting Office, designed in 1892 by Sir Henry Tanner, was a fine example of baroque and Edwardian architecture opposite Paddington Station.
After vacating the office in 2008, Royal Mail sold the building to a Singaporean consortium for £111m in 2014 and negotiated an additional £20m should the buyers win planning permission for a redevelopment.
View of the Sorting Office looking south from London Road in 2016.
This £20m was all but assured as Royal Mail controversially secured a Certificate of Immunity from Listing (COI) from the Secretary of State prior to the sale, preventing any attempt by activists to save the building.
Yet just three years earlier, Westminster Council had recognised the sorting office as a ‘Building of Merit'.
The Sorting office as viewed from Paddington Station on Praed Street in 2016 (top) and a render of its replacement, The 'Paddington Cube' (bottom).
Their 2010 Report described it as "an attractive unlisted building [that] occupies a key position between Paddington Station and St Mary's Hospital... “providing an important link to the historical auxiliary uses of the station."
A previous Royal Mail redevelopment proposal from 2011 also acknowledged as much by ensuring facade retention in the plans.
A render of a 2011 development proposal which included facade retention.
Under the current scheme though, a 19 story glass office block, dubbed ‘The Paddington Cube’ is to be built in its place.
Planning committee officials, seduced by misleading CGI images showing sunlight streaming through the proposed building in areas that will be not be transparent, because of lifts and a fire escape, approved the project in 2016.
Sadly, After a legal challenge against the redevelopment was thrown out, demolition of the old Sorting Office commenced in November 2018.