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Rogers 'abused power' to delay Chelsea plans

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Britain's most famous neo-classical architect has accused Richard Rogers of abusing his cosy relationship with New Labour to delay a controversial hospital project.

Quinlan Terry has damned Rogers, a Chelsea resident, for writing a personal email to deputy prime minister John Prescott expressing criticism for Terry's classical designs for Chelsea Royal Hospital's new infirmary.

In a confidential email composed on 9 February, details of which were leaked to the AJ, Rogers - the author of the government's Urban Task Force report - slams Terry's design.

The note brands the scheme 'architectural plagiarism', saying it 'bears no relation to Wren's original Baroque design' and asks for it to be called in by the government office for London.

Quinlan Terry said he was furious about the Rogers letter. 'It was shock to me,' he told the AJ. 'You have to question when this kind of thing is going to be exposed. I think Rogers is abusing his relationship with New Labour.

'He thinks it should be a modern building. Well, the client didn't want a modern building,' he added.

And councillors at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea also questioned Rogers' motives after the Government Office for London, which is part of Prescott's department, put an Article 14 holding delay on the project. The GoL move came just hours before the council's major applications committee resoundingly approved the scheme the last Friday.

Rogers' objections were echoed by the official Chelsea Society stance. However, the organisation has experienced at least one high-profile resignation over opposition on the Terry scheme - including its honorary secretary.

The Article 14 delay to the decision - which will last for 21 days while the government office decides whether the planning decision needs to be called in - is all the more urgent as Chelsea pensioners are currently living in inappropriate temporary accommodation.

Despite it winning the support of CABE and English Heritage, the Chelsea Society's objections included the Terry scheme's scale, which will make it the same height as Wren's Great Hall within the original hospital.

Richard Rogers refused to comment.

by Rob Sharp

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