Minor amendments

November 2023

The minor amendments respond to comments received during consultation and at planning committee. They were submitted to Westminster City Council through a Section 73 application in December. The application has been validated and is available to view on WCC's planning website using reference 23/08726/FULL. You can take part in the statutory consultation led by WCC by commenting on the application and we encourage you to participate in this process.

The ambition for Grosvenor Square Garden remains the same - to transform the square into a world-class public green space that delivers on the Community Priorities.

Overview of proposed minor amendments

Overall, the minor amendments seek to:

  • Respond to feedback including from WCC’s Tree Officer and the Met Police Designing Out Crime Officer
  • Simplify the design to make it easier to deliver
  • Reduce potential impact on trees
  • Increase the feeling of safety by improving sightlines
  • Retain, and where possible, improve community and environmental benefits
  • Reduce embodied carbon

The proposed amendments have no impact on the:

  • Listed building consent
  • Play space allocation
  • Operational and event strategies

This online exhibition is split into 7 sections that give more detail on the proposed minor amendments and relating benefits.

Public benefits and heritage features

The proposed amendments retain the various public benefits achieved through the consented scheme, including:

  • Increased biodiversity, 2 acres of habitat rich planting and 26 more trees
  • An education building with a kiosk for learning
  • Improved air quality and new wetlands
  • Public WCs and play areas for children
  • Public art plinths and drinking water fountains
  • Seating and comfortable spaces to enjoy
  • New path routes to enjoy the garden
  • Enhanced management, security and maintenance
  • Extended opening hours
  • Reinstated and enhanced heritage features. Hover over the buttons on the plan below to see the heritage features are celebrated through the redesign

Retain the boundary hedge

The majority of the existing boundary hedge would be retained, rather than introducing a new railing around the whole garden. Entrances would be enhanced and widened by replacing some of the hedge with woodland planting and a new railing to match.

  • Improve visibility and sightlines
  • Enhanced biodiversity
  • Reduce embodied carbon
  • Less excavation around tree roots
  • No impact on adjacent highways

Retain the southern gates

The gates at the southern entrance would be retained and refurbished. Whilst unlisted, these ‘Diplomatic Gates’ are part of Grosvenor Square’s heritage.

  • Re-use existing materials
  • Retain heritage feature
  • No impact on adjacent highway pavement

Amend building layouts

The building designs have evolved to an oval shape to use space more efficiently, whilst reducing the amount of overhanging roof in response to feedback received from the Designing Out Crime officer.

  • Relocated entrances to enhance relationship between the buildings and the garden
  • Reduce risk of rough sleeping
  • Reduce impact on tree roots
  • Simplified construction
  • More efficient building layouts
  • Improved accessibility

Simplify the design

Remove the mounds

Mounds originally proposed in the social ovals, play areas, and woodland path of the Shaded Garden would be removed, and the central oval would also be made level.

  • Improved visibility
  • Reduce impact on tree roots
  • Reduced materials and carbon saving
  • Maintain the N/S axis between the FDR and Eagle Squadrons Memorials across the central oval

Additional proposed amendments

More grassy areas

Inner social ovals closest to the Open Garden would be grass rather than hard surfacing.

  • More open lawn to sit on in the shade
  • Less excavation around tree roots
  • Simplified construction and maintenance
  • Improved permeability and water drainage

Use freestanding benches

Use freestanding benches rather than ones that are screwed into the ground, including wheelchair and pushchair friendly zones to create a more inclusive environment.

  • Minimise excavation
  • Reduce impact on tree roots
  • Enable breaks for existing tree locations
  • More accessible design

Fewer level changes between planting & paths

A more level surface has been achieved by using softer surface materials, fewer material layers and less-intensive foundations.

  • Reduce impact on tree roots
  • Remove trip hazards
  • Simplified construction and maintenance
  • Improve accessibility
  • Reduce carbon
  • Improved path hierarchy
  • Improved water drainage

What happens next?

Subject to receiving planning consent, construction is expected to start in early 2025 and we’re anticipating that works could take up to 2 years.

As part of local engagement in 2021, 62% of people told us they would prefer the redesign to be delivered in one phase. Whilst this would likely require us to temporarily shut the square, this is also our preferred approach as it will enable us to reopen Grosvenor Square sooner. This approach will be developed in more detail and tested with potential contractors and partners; we will share more information in due course.