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Court report: Prince 'intervened' over Chelsea Barracks

Property developer Christian Candy has given a colourful account of why he believes the Prince of Wales put the brakes on his redevelopment plans for the prestigious 12.8-acre Chelsea Barracks site in London

Candy - who is suing his Qatari partners in the scheme for £81 million for breach of contract - told a High Court judge that in March 2009 he discovered Charles had written a letter criticising the plans by architect Richard Rogers.

He said that after a meeting with the prince, the Emir of Qatar decided the planning application for the modernist scheme for 650 flats on the site should be withdrawn.

Jeremy Titchen, of development company Qatari Diar (QD), was alleged to have told Candy’s colleague: ‘When the emir was in the UK and spoke to the Prince of Wales, the Prince of Wales pissed in his ear about how awful the scheme was. The emir then went mental at Ghanim (bin Saad al Saad, managing director of Qatari Diar) telling him how awful the design was, and that they must withdraw as soon as possible.’

Candy, who owns CPC Group, the other principal company in the development consortium, claims the Qatari partners withdrew the planning application for what would have been the most expensive housing project in the UK, in breach of their contract for a payment for shares sold to QD on planning approval.

Giving evidence before Justice Vos, Candy said: ‘It was only the intervention of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales that put the planning application in any conceivable doubt, though I still thought the planning application would succeed if QD stood wholeheartedly behind it.’

He continued: ‘Certainly I expected that in practice the decision of what to do with the planning application in the light of the intervention of the Prince of Wales would be made by the emir and his cousin, His Excellency Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al Thani, the chairman of QD and prime minister of Qatar.’

Candy admitted that QD might find it difficult to pursue the application but it did have the contractual right to do so if it made an early settlement to CPC of the deferred payment.

He claimed QD did withdraw because of the emir’s views but instead of making payment to CPC, it tried to find a way to avoid settling. Under cross-examination in the witness box, Candy said architects are ‘precious’ about their designs and do not like making changes.

Factfile

QD has since appointed Dixon Jones, Squire & Partners and Kim Wilkie Associates to draw up a new residential-led ‘masterplan concept’ for the key 12.8 acre London site designed to ’link seamlessly into the surrounding community’. See AJ online 21.04.10

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