Prince of Wales Provides Input into London Redevelopment Process

  May 27, 2009 at 8:19 am by

Using a bit of royal-to-royal pull, and acting via his Foundation for the Built Environment, The Prince of Wales has been heard in his vocal objections to a modern design for a London redevelopment site.

Image from TRF Avatar Collection

Image from TRF Avatar Collection

Developer Qatari Diar plans to build 552 flats in 17 blocks on the former Chelsea Barracks site in west London. Qatari Diar is owned by the Qatari Investment Authority, the investment arm of the sovereign wealth fund of the government of Qatar. Although the fund is administered by the prime minister of Qatar, the chairman of the QIA is His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani. In addition to the purchase and ownership of the Chelsea barracks site, QIA holds a substantial direct interest in London’s Canary Wharf development. The Chelsea Barracks site is owned by a subsidiary of QIA, Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company.

Preliminary plans for the development of the site drew negative comments from the Prince, who referred to the glass exterior modern design as “unsympathetic.” Reaching out to the Qatar royal family, the Prince told representatives of the Qatari royal family that he preferred an alternative “classical” design for the site, in keeping with its surroundings near the River Thames.

His commentary was not universally welcomed, with some architectural experts expressing their opinion that the intervention of the Prince subverted the process of architectural integrity.

Charles’ interest in matters architectural has been longstanding; he has famously referred to the design for the extension of the National Gallery as being a “carbuncle,” and regularly participates in and speaks at leading architectural conferences in the U.K. and abroad.

The Chelsea Barracks is located in the City of Westminster, London, and was vacated by in 2008 by the British Army. In 2007, it was sold by the Ministry of Defence for £959 million to a consortium including the QIA and the CPC Group Ltd. The CPC Group was purchased in November 2008 by Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company, placing QIA in sole control of the Chelsea Barracks site.

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