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Bolles + Wilson ditched in Chelsea

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Bolles + Wilson is the latest design team to be sidelined in the long-running saga surrounding the redevelopment of West Cromwell Road near Earls Court, West London

Landowner Tesco and development partner Brookfield Multiplex have turned to London-based Benson + Forsyth Architects after coming under pressure from the local authority to change its high-rise designs.

It is understood that Tesco and Brookfield, which supported Bolles + Wilson's design, were cornered into holding an invitation-only contest by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) to find a mutually acceptable, less bulky scheme.

According to the developer, the council opposed the 24-storey design by the German practice, which would have been the first tower built in the borough for 15 years, even though it was praised as an 'elegant design' by CABE as recently as December 2008.

The appointment has been condemned by a furious Peter Wilson, director of Bolles + Wilson, who claims RBKC bent its rules on affordable housing to allow for a shorter scheme.

Wilson said: 'The council have [now] said they will allocate the affordable housing for the site to another scheme. They are playing a tricky game.'

Justin Black, director at Brookfield said: 'We are in a very difficult position. Although we remain fully supportive of the Bolles + Wilson planning application, we decided last year that the most constructive route to secure a viable planning consent on 100 West Cromwell Road was to work in partnership with RBKC to deliver a mutually acceptable solution for the site. This will avoid a lengthy appeal process.'

Benson + Forsyth is the forth firm since 2001 to take on the project – after Bolles + Wilson, Woods Bagot and housebuilder Persimmon Homes – and saw off David Chipperfield, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Denton Corker Marshall to land the job.

A new planning application is expected to be submitted in summer 2009.

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