The basin commences 500 m south of the junction known as Little Venice, of the Regent's Canal and the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal and runs for a similar length east-west. 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.
Since 2000, the basin has been the centre of a major redevelopment as part of the wider Paddington Waterside scheme and is surrounded by modern buildings.
The contractors of a developers' consortium in partnership with the Canal and River Trust (and its predecessor British Waterways) in 2000 drained, cleaned and repaired the basin. In the latter half of the 20th century the basin attracted small and medium-sized commercial offices and is in part lined by specialist and private healthcare wings of St Mary's Hospital. The basin has become home to a wide range of companies, such as Marks & Spencer, the Head Office of which moved from Baker Street in 2004.
Most of the land north of the canal basin forms the 2010s development Merchant Square, North Wharf Road. Its main developer European Land and Property is a joint venture of Simon and David Reuben (the Reuben brothers) and the Jarvis family. In all, the development around Paddington Basin is creating 2,000,000 sq ft (190,000 m2) of offices, homes, shops and leisure facilities. Its western buildings are mainly complete and occupied as at 2018.
- Completed buildings
- 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 - which became 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, completed in 2013; 5 Merchant Square (formerly Carmine) is a 14-storey office block of 255,000 sq ft (23,700 m2) designed by Mossessian and Partners which became fully let by 2015. 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 surrounds a central square. A life-size sculpture in memory of Sir Simon Milton was unveiled in September 2014 by 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 has creatively designed pedestrian bridges:
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- "Grand Union Building". Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. 2010. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
- Davey, Jenny (11 February 2006). "Developers to submit £700m Paddington Basin plans". Business Times. Retrieved 29 October 2010. (Subscription required for access)
- "Paddington Special Policy Area Factsheet" (pdf). Planning & City Development Department, City of Westminster. May 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
- "20 May 2011 Media Release". Reuben Brothers. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
- Buckley, James (3 July 2013). "Three Merchant Square tops out". CoStar Co. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
- "Merchant Square". Paddington Waterside Partnership. 2014. Archived from the original on 9 July 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
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- "Marks & Spencer". Paddington Waterside Partnership. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
- Wright, Emily (12 January 2013). "Bank on Success". Estates Gazette.
- Spittles, David (6 November 2012). "London is becoming a vertical metropolis". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
- "2 Merchant Square". European Land and Property Ltd. Retrieved 7 July 2014. (Official website)
- "6 Merchant Square". European Land and Property Ltd. Archived from the original on 2 July 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
- "Eric Pickles to unveil statue of former Deputy London Mayor Sir Simon Milton". Get West London. 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
- O'Cealleigh, John (16 May 2013). "The 'Fan Bridge': Paddington's new landmark". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 July 2014.