Allies and Morrison has become the latest signature practice to lose a major job to a littleknown rival after securing planning permission.
The practice has been sacked from the Grovesnor Dock development in Westminster by developer St James. Its replacement, the Amos Partnership, worked on the scheme for several months before Allies and Morrison was ditched.
The highly regarded practice, known for its scrupulous detailing, was originally contracted to draw up plans for two substantial residential buildings on the site as well as designs for a smallscale pavilion building. But it was unceremoniously dumped in May, having secured planning permission for the third and final building. The Amos Partnership, meanwhile, had been working on its own drawings since February, according to Mark Bell, its project architect.
Westminster's head of planning this week issued a stark warning to St James that any variation in the detailed design would not be tolerated and would require a fresh planning application. 'We take a dim view of dumbing down, ' director of planning Carl Powell told the AJ.
'The council will expect the original design excellence.'
Chair of the planning committee Angela Hooper echoed the view: 'This is a major residential development, ' she said.
'We want to see the best quality architecture and the best quality materials for the site.'
In issuing permission for the Boathouse building in January, the council said it was keen that Allies and Morrison be retained for the life of the project.
Allies and Morrison was unavailable for comment, but Paul Prichard, design director at St James - a subsidiary of the Berkeley Group - said the substitution was a 'delicate matter'.
'We had to part company because of differences of opinion on certain issues, ' he said. 'There were proposals to make amendments [Allies and Morrison] was not happy with. For various reasons we didn't continue with them.'
The development, on Grosvenor Road, also includes another four residential buildings designed by Twigg Brown, Michael Squire and Partners and two further unnamed practices.
The 4.2 ha site borders the Thames between the Grade IIlisted Lister Hospital and the Western Pumping Station. The original masterplan was drawn up by Broadway Malyan.