Opinion

Will The Iconic Hoover Building Be Ruined By A New 22-Storey Building?

Will The Iconic Hoover Building Be Ruined By A New 22-Storey Building?
Photo: Ewan Munro

"One of these days the Hoover Factory is gonna be all the rage in those fashionable pages..."

Turns out Elvis Costello was right. Campaigners are up in arms over plans to build a 22-storey glass tower behind one of London's most iconic pieces of art deco architecture, the Hoover Building in Perivale.

One section of the building juts 22 storeys into the sky - the others, just 10. Imahe

Petitioners against the blueprints — presented by Amro Living, HTA Design and GL Hearn — say the residential new-build, named Wiltern, would be "far too high", "not at all in keeping with the local residential housing", and would "ruin" the appearance of the Grade II* listed art deco Hoover Building.

Among other concerns in the petition, are that Perivale's schools and doctors surgeries are already oversubscribed, and that HS2 tunnelling is going to cause enough upset to traffic in the area.

The petition urges Ealing Council to halt the proposed plans from going any further. Heritage outfits including Ealing Heritage Society have also voiced strong concerns.

HTA's designs for the site behind the Hoover Building, which would be built in the current Tesco car park

Make no bones about it; the world is in love with the Hoover Building. While Costello penned a love song to it, Beckonscot Model village crafted a miniature version of it. It is, without a doubt, a splendorous confection of the art deco era. A magnificent homecoming beacon along the A40, from voyages out west.

And yet the designs for Wiltern could be far less sympathetic. With its streamlined curves and pastel colour palette, the complex 305 homes wouldn't look out of place in South Beach, Miami.

Only one section of the complex is 22 storey — the rest rises just 10 — and locals get to keep their supermarket, as well as part of its car park.

A miniature tribute at Bekonscot Model Village

Which raises another point: part of the factory has already been turned into a Tesco; the other sections, into luxury apartments. It's not like Wiltern would sow the seeds of gentrification — they've been flourishing a while.

Our feelings about the proposed plans are frankly mixed. The Hoover Building is an icon. But London needs more houses. And not every great piece of architecture can have the mollycoddling sightline laws afforded to St Paul's.

As Elvis Costello sang in the same song: "It's not a matter of life or death."

View the planning application and check out the petition

Last Updated 18 September 2019