An unemployed designer was £3,000 better off this week after the AJ stepped in to help in a row over unpaid fees. Colin Harwood, a former ARB-registered architect, claimed he had been 'supplanted' by Leeds-based Carey Jones from a job to design new facilities for Sheffield United Football Club.
Carey Jones director Gordon Carey last week flatly denied the charge of supplanting but promised to pay up over the 'non-issue' this week.
The saga dates back to 1996, when Harwood initially proposed a scheme to rework Sheffield United FC's base at Bramall Lane to club director and developer Kevin McCabe. Harwood claimed last week that in the intervening years he had been left on the sidelines while Carey Jones completed work which, he said, resembles his own. 'I felt they were trying to give me the brush-off ' he said. 'And now I'm thinking about jacking in architecture for good because of the attitude of firms like that. I feel ashamed at the lack of esprit de corps.'
Harwood was attempting to highlight his case after ex-RIBA president Marco Goldschmied advised him to publicise his position as the best course of action. So he sent a letter to Carey Jones detailing his involvement, invoicing it for £4,000 and pointing out that £2,000 was still due to another practice, then called King McAllister, as an 'agreed severance' payment. Then he contacted the AJ.
Carey Jones has worked closely with Teesland Developments, the property developing firm which McCabe chairs, on other schemes, including the £70 million Doncaster Interchange project, criticised by CABE in August.
But Harwood says that having approached McCabe off his own back in January 1996, he was then introduced by his prospective client to Carey Jones, with whom he worked that July, including a fortnight at the practice's offices. Later, McCabe suggested that Harwood should join the architect as an employee, but Harwood declined. He was, however, credited as co-architect alongside the bigger Leeds outfit on drawings seen by the AJ, dated July 1996, for the leisure proposal project at the club.
Later that year, Gordon Carey suggested in a letter to Harwood, dated 26 September, that Harwood should 'lie low' over the scheme to avoid any more costs on his behalf, and that, as the scheme was still 'speculative', fee agreements between the two parties would be impossible. 'However, I have indicated to you that, as soon as we get some money, I will contact you so that we can 'give a fair share', ' Carey wrote.
Harwood is angry that promises in that letter that he would be kept informed of progress were never kept - a fact acknowledged by Carey. 'But he could have picked up the phone to us too, ' said Carey.
In September 1997, the leisure project, including plans for a hotel - which Carey Jones is still hopeful of building - a restaurant and business centre, appeared in the Sheffield United club programme.
But in October last year, Carey told Harwood by letter that the offices and ground-capacity enlargement scheme, which has now been built in two corners of Bramall Lane, was 'completely different than originally envisaged', that Carey Jones had made a 'financial loss' on the project with 'a lot of fees outstanding', and that it would not be 'appropriate' for Harwood to get any share of fees for the 'later work'.
Last week, however, Carey told the AJ the row was now a 'non-issue', and that he would pay Harwood £3,000 for the work. 'It's all hunky-dory now and it's a happy story, ' he said. Carey added that the project his practice had built, which was worth 'a few million pounds', had moved on and the 'realistic' £3,000 figure Harwood wanted was 'far less than half ' of the 'tremendous amount of money' he was originally asking for, which was 25 per cent of the total planning fee. 'Some relationships gel and some don't, ' said Carey. 'The lesson is to make contact and we should have followed up our letter, but why didn't Colin phone me? We got there in the end.'
Harwood cited Dave King and Rod McAllister, then of King McAllister, and Peter Cartwright, then of Carey Jones, as working with him on the project and as now being supportive of his case. But last week both parties were lukewarm in their views.
Cartwright said that the parties had needed to come to an 'amicable' solution. The wider lesson was that architects in general needed to become more attuned to written agreements of how to go forward, rather than leaving such matters behind - and seeing things through 'rose-tinted spectacles'.