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Prince Charles: 'I am an ignorant amateur'

The Prince of Wales branded himself an ‘ignorant amateur’ in a letter sent to stop the Smithfield market redevelopment, the AJ can exclusively reveal

Echoing the controversy surrounding the Prince’s current ‘meddling’ in the Chelsea Barracks proposals, the note (above) to former English Heritage chair Neil Cossons in 2004 urges the organisation to list the historic central London market and help stop KPF’s proposed £250 million commercial redevelopment of the site.

KPF and developer Thornfield Properties, who intended to flatten the red brick Victorian buildings on the western edge of the plot, subsequently lost a public enquiry and John McAslan & Partners was brought in to look at how the markets could be retained in any new scheme.

The angry Prince said in the letter, uncovered this week by the AJ, that he ‘was determined that we [himself and English Heritage] should do everything we can to preserve and restore Smithfield and the complex of buildings in a sympathetic way, rather than destroy yet another part of London’s Heritage’.

However, speaking about a decision not to list the market blocks, Charles said: ‘I recognize I am an ignorant amateur in these weighty bureaucratic matters but I am still still confused and bewildered by what appears to be a lack of logic - somewhere…’

Prince Charles delivers his latest thoughts on architecture at the RIBA tonight (12 May).

Readers' comments (2)

  • Well a bit of humility is always a good thing, and apparently rarely displayed by the egos that seem to control the UK architectural profession.

    On the grounds on what Alsop has proposed in the past for Barnsley and Croydon, I think many would question the validity of opinion of many industry 'professionals' purportedly at the top of their game.

    And I think many people would agree with him regarding Smithfileld, the scheme proposed was dire, and there is a huge glut of City office space, which a number of surveyors and economists have estimated is sufficient in the Square Mile to accommodate demand for the next decade.

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  • Lets keep things in context - Prince Charles admits to being an amateur in specific matters of bureaucracy, not architecture.

    Most architects seem too concerned with erecting monuments to themselves because they can, rather than being concerned about the average man in the street who will use the building, or that the building respects its surroundings.

    FLW stated that form follows function - if the building doesn't work for the users, it's a poor building regardless of how it looks, and surely not architecture.

    Just because it can be built doesn't mean it should be built.

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