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Chelsea Barracks faces major setback

The controversial Chelsea Barracks scheme in west London could face a major redesign, after the developer Qatari Diar, said it would continue to pursue a solution benefiting ‘all parties’

Ghanim bin Saad al-Saad, head of Qatari Diar, the property development-arm of the Qatar government said that he was confident a solution to the Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partner-design would be found that would please everyone, including Prince Charles.

‘We respect the democracy and procedures in the UK and [want to] listen and co-operate with….all parties, with Prince Charles, with the mayor, with everybody….We are following the process and procedures…we can sit around the table to get a solution for everybody.’

The comments were followed by further media reports over the weekend, which claim the scheme is ‘dead in the water’ and will be withdrawn from planning in June.

However, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners told the AJ that it was still working on the existing planning application. And a spokesman for Project Blue Guernsey Ltd (PBGL) - the owner and developer of the site, which Qatari Diar owns a majority stake - said: ‘Following the interview with Mr Ghanim bin Saad al Saad, CEO of Qatari Diar, recently published in the Financial Times, PBGL reaffirms its previously stated public position that it continues to engage with the stakeholders and is listening to their concerns in respect of the proposed redevelopment of the Chelsea Barracks site. Meanwhile, the planning application has not been withdrawn.’

It follows a previous statement from Project Blue, which was issued on 1 May, giving its total backing to the Richard Rogers-designed scheme.

On 6 April, the AJ reported that Prince Charles had privately written to Qatari Diar stressing his unhappiness with the scheme and suggested alternative plans by his favoured classicist architect, Quinlan Terry.

This was followed on 25 April by a number of architects, including Norman Foster, Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid, writing to the Sunday Times to criticise the Prince of Wales for trying to interfere with the democratic process, by using his royal connections to stop modernist plans for the site.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Would it have come to this if the only complaints came from Joe Bloke and not the prince? Are there any other issues besides the prince's aesthetic prejudices that warrant this level of interference? Has there been any significant opposition to the plan's design prior to the prince's meddling? The prince should get his own Chelsea Barracks if he wants a different scheme.

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  • Tommy Manuel has hit the nail on the head - it has only come to this because the Prince of Wales spoke up and voiced the concerns of 'Joe Bloke' - i.e. local residents and thank goodness he did! The People oppose this scheme in huge numbers - look at the scores of comments on any London news website that covers this story but the all powerful cartel of developer/architect wouldn't listen. The prince has spoken up for his people - the man and woman in the street - and will have done us all a big favour if a new scheme which complements rather than blighting its surroundings is agreed.

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  • I don't really have any strong feelings about this particular scheme but one thing I do find inconsistent about a lot of comments I have read on architectural websites is how they oppose Prince Charles' opinion influencing the likelihood of this scheme happening.

    But doesn't the opposite happen all the time - developers sign up a Gehry, a Hadid, a Foster, a Rogers, a Liebskind, in the hope that the big name starchitect will help drive the project through the planning process? But you rarely see architects complaining about how 'undemocratic' that could be seen to be.

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