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Join the debate: Prince Charles Charity Commision probe

The Prince of Wales is the subject of an investigation by the Charity Commission, after a complaint that he is using Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment as a private lobbying firm

The heir to the throne is under the spotlight, according to the Daily Express after it was alleged that he has repeatedly used his foundation it to try to lobby Government ministers, developers and others to support his traditionalist views on designing major projects.

The Charity Commission, which regulates 190,000 organisations will look into a complaint made about Charles’s architecture body, the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment.

Republic, a group that campaigns for an elected head of state, is to lodge a formal complaint, arguing that the foundation is in breach of commission guidelines that stipulate campaigning should not damage the reputation or independence of a charity or become the main reason for its existence.

The complaint follows a series of controversies about the role of Charles and the foundation in lobbying to have modernist architects removed from key projects, including a £3 billion flats project at Chelsea Barracks and a £500 million shops and office complex next to St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Readers' comments (20)

  • Excuse me? Many built environment charities campaign. It's what they exist for. However, I expect that nothing further will come of any investigation, as clearly it is only in the eyes of some mischief makers that his Foundation's reputation is in any way damaged, and campaigning is not the main reason for its existence.

    So the unpleasant, uninformed smear campiagn continues. Who is paying for it? Who is behind it? A slighted architect perhaps?

    Similar stature as a consultee? Utter irresponsible nonsense, peddled, of course, by a major developer. He is not a consultee, any interventions he cares to make (and every person in this country is free to do the same) hold no statutory weight, are not material planning considerations, and his views can be disregarded by developers. And they are. Which at times is a pity.

    Has no-one learned yet that this is not an argument about 'tradiotion' versus modern? It's about suitability.

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  • So Republic is to lodge a complaint. It has not already done so, it is simply making publicity seeking threats? It will have to have a strong case, and could well end up with egg on its face, but of course by the time the Charity Commission decides there is nothing to investigate, the mud will have stuck.

    Please can we have some investigation into who is carrying out this vendetta, who are the shadowy figures paying for all this?

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  • RIBA and RICS 'consultees?' Consulted on what? Certainly not planning. Can somone at the AJ ask Roger Madelin?

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  • Sorry, friend. It's not about suitability, it's about privilege.

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  • It's also about wild speculation and hyperbole on the part of the press. If Prince Charles had so much power, then developers would have to say yes. They don't. He doesn't.

    Architects so frequently have little idea about planning.

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  • Campaigning is not the main reason for the existence of this charity. Indeed, what it does can hardly be called campaigning.

    Is 'damage to its reputation' what this latest round of press clamour is designed to do? Is it a deliberate campaign of misinformation in order to attempt such damage?

    Republic would do well not to be used as a tool by those with a personal axe to grind.

    The charitable aims of the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment are clearly articulated on its website, and responses to recent allegations by its Chief Executive can also be read there.

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  • There is a broader constitutional context to consider. Republic's case is both meritorious and substantial: this individual has a pernicious lack of respect for democratic processes in this country, and persistently refuses to understand his family's role and unwritten obligations within it (including, potentially, the limits of his role as a future monarch).

    Aside from all this, there is an unseemly arrogance in one who, despite lacking any formal qualifications in architecture or indeed any discipline relating to the built environment, seeks to hold sway of those more knowledgable and informed than he.

    The real world is well attuned to this: it comes as some consolation that not one of his favoured architects has achived any genuine distinction either at home or internationally, despite his patronage and that of a few who share his lack of progressive ideals.

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  • Republic's case will be judged on the merits of whether or not the particular allegations stand re the Charity Commissionand the particular charity.

    The rest is no concern of the Charity Commission.

    As for 'democratic process', he has the same rights as anyone to 'interfere'. The arrogance belongs to those in the development and archictecture industry, who have no more, no fewer, rights than the rest of the population.

    This country is littered with so many appalling and unloved developments, designed by architects, funded by developers. The former may have been trained but such training does not a great artist always make, although it does seem to develop an unseemly arrogance in the belief that the 'untrained' cannot have a view about the environment in which they have to live. Developers are usually money men, and the bottom line is all they care about.

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  • Im delighted we have an active Royal Family who can cut through the 'bull' and actually engage in proper debate about the state of our urban landscape.

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  • It's pretty clear that Charles is doing more than 'expressing a view', but that debate has been well aired and probably doesn't require much more column space here

    It's interesting that the commentator should reer to "so many appalling and unloved developments".

    Much of the development undertaken in our towns and cities in the last couple of centuries has been undertaken by commercial developers. It would take a person of very limited insight to denounce all of it as 'appalling'.

    Is he/she of the opinion that the somewhat contrived (let's be magnanimous here) genre of architecture and urban development that Charles espouses will be any more 'loved' or highly regarded in years to come.

    Poundbury, ignoring its dubious sustainability credentials (highest car usage per capita in that part of rural Dorset, I gather), is a place that few people seem to be comfortable professing a liking for, even now. Like any other development, this one has been undertaken to make money, albeit with a somewhat lower break-even threshold (few have the luxury of owning large tracts of development land, free of debt, through birth right).

    Other developers, particularly the successful ones, are generally less prone to condemning other people's ideas until they have proven that their own ideas actually work (often with some pain along the way). Often, they will have learned from others' mistakes, and studied their successes. It's what differentiates them from what some might regard as the idiot toff, big-mouthed, interfering and making money from old rope.

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  • This country is littered with so many appalling and unloved developments, foisted on us. Not all, not what was written, but too many.

    Large numbers of architects and developers seem not to learn from their mistakes. So much is simply dreadful. Of course there are successes, mass housebuilders must be successful, the houses sell. Out of town sheds sell. Banal 'iconic' towers sell. There's a market for most things. That includes Poundbury, which sells.

    The Prince of Wales is as entitled as I am to write and ask developers to alter their plans. They are entitled to say no.

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  • An extract from Planning Resource

    A planning application for a housing development in Blackpool could be decided by an independent panel after it emerged that the developer made two donations to the local Conservative association.

    Kensington developments is planning to build 570 homes around Moss House Road in the Marton Moss area of the town.

    However it has emerged that the developer made two £5,000 donations to Blackpool South Conservative Association.

    The first donation was received on 3 July 2008, 18 days before their first planning application to build 670 homes, while in May 2009 a second donation was received, followed by their revised second planning application for 570 homes on 16 June 2009.

    Local protest group Save Our Moss said the payments call into question plans for the site. A statement said: "The fact that Kensington Developments owns, has options on, or is attempting to buy considerable amounts of land in the area that is covered by Blackpool’s Core Strategy has now compromised this plan.

    "For the council to regain any credibility for the Strategy, we believe that they must regain this land from the developers. Only then will the trust of Blackpool’s residents be restored."

    But the developer has denied any wrongdoing. It said: "Kensington developments makes a number of donations each year to various council and local community projects, charitable organisations and otherwise. These are a matter of public record and comply with applicable standards and legislation.

    "The fully accounted donations were made to the Blackpool South Conservative Association to continue their good work in the Town. We understand that neither the labour party nor the conservative party are self financing and they both rely on donations from many businesses and individuals."

    However speaking to the BBC, the leader of the Tory-controlled council, Peter Callow, said he was "disgusted" and has launched an investigation.

    "I'm running a clean administration here and that's going to remain and if heads have got to roll, then they've got to roll", he said.

    Callow has proposed an independent panel now decides the application.

    A spokesperson for Blackpool Council said the issue was "a political rather than a council issue".

    Planning is such a simple and democratic process, is it not?

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  • In the 17th century two royal fools were deposed. We must be as resolute as our forebears.

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  • Other the last couple of months, people who have previously 'covered-up' for the prince are saying "why should we do this anymore, lets let the world see him for what he is...." It is now apparent Charles is a serial back-room meddler, not adverse to using any spoiling tactic to get his own way. Fundamental to his small-mindedness is his fear / inability to debate or engage in a two-way discourse. However, this is as much over-bearing arrogance and privilege as pure stupidity. And no, who wants a playground bully as King ?

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  • I would like a king with such an interest in the built environment. I would like a press which did not make stories up or put such a spin on them that those with some insight know just how twisted these are.

    I would like residents of this country to be able to see the wood for the trees and have a sense of proportion, but sadly, too many are easily swayed by press hyperbole and witch hunts.

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  • Republic is to be applauded for its broader agenda, which hopefully will spare us the indignity and embarrassment of ever having as our head of state one so singularly unqualified for the role.

    It is also to be applauded for finally identifying a formal channel through which, if only indirectly, Charles can finally be held to account for his conduct. Hopefully this will lead to a proper, open, public debate about his methods and, in time, to his adopting a more transparent means of pursuing his agenda.

    If he, his advisers, and his entourage of 'practitioners' can demonstrate that their approach has any merit, in terms of improving the quality of the built environment, design or sustainability, then the current publicity will only stand to benefit them in the long term.

    If there is anything positive to be learned from their gauche and regressive recent contributions to the 21st Century British architectural and urbanist oeuvre, then I for one would love to understand exactly what that is.

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  • What next?

    Will people be complaining that Amnesty International, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are abusing their charity status by lobbying?

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  • Probably not, because most people would probably regard the activities of Amnesty International, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth to be broadly worthwhile.

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  • In fact, all that has happened is that a little smear campaign has been launched, and my, how some have fallen for it.

    I agree with what Prince Charles is doing. I do not think I am alone.

    He's not the only person who works to save historic buildings, and the wider environment, from harm.

    Try this for example, and I gather that meetings of the trustees of the newly formed BPT have been held with his Regeneration Trust, which has been giving urgent and much needed advice on what do do.

    Naturally, there will be those who feel that the demolition is acceptable, but many do not. They have been working 'behind the scenes' to try to prevent it. A large number of people have been letter writing to everyone from the Minister to the local council, to try to stop the planned demolition.

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    Whitefield Conservation Area, Nelson, Lancs.

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