Chelsea Barracks Proposal, London, Richard Rogers, Architect, Image, Design

Chelsea Barracks London : Architecture

Design by Lord Rogers Dropped after Opposition from Prince Charles

2 Sep 2009

Chelsea Barracks Proposal

Chelsea Barracks – New RIBA President Complains re Prince Charles

Ruth Reed the new president of RIBA (since 1 Sep) has criticised Prince Charles’ involvement in Chelsea Barracks and the planning process on BBC Radio 4.

BBC report that the President said “It is unfortunate if anybody uses their position in public life to exert undue influence on a democratic process such as planning. There appears to be evidence that he has written behind the scenes both about planning applications and also about the appointment of particular architects, which would be an abuse of his position, definitely.”

As her comment related to Chelsea Barracks, which Westminster City Council would have considered at one of its democratic planning meetings, the deputy leader and cabinet member for the built environment at Westminster City Council, Cllr Robert Davis’ response is below.

Westminster City Council Statement Re Chelsea Barracks

Cllr Robert Davis, Westminster City Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for the Built Environment, said: “In light of the new president of the Royal Institute, Ruth Reed, criticising the Prince of Wales for his involvement in Chelsea Barracks I would like to set a few things straight.
“Contrary to Ms Reed’s comments the Prince has not derailed the democratic planning process but has actually encouraged a healthy debate which is part and parcel of the planning process. Our democratically elected planning committee, which is the accountable body for these decisions, would have considered all views without fear or favour.
“Nearly 500 people wrote in to the council to make their views known. Indeed, Prince Charles’s comments may well have empowered people to enter the debate as it made them aware that planning is not some mysterious process behind closed doors, but is conducted in public and everyone is entitled to a view, be they a peer of the realm, a prince or a private citizen.
“I want to assure Ms Reed that Westminster City Council would have had regard to all the views expressed to us, from whatever quarter, alongside the professional advice from our own planning officers, had the committee gone ahead.
“In one respect it is a shame Qatari Diar withdrew before the date of the planning committee, but they were more than aware of the weight of public opinion and a very well organised campaign by local people who had been galvanised into action. In due course the local community will be invited for their views on new proposals and the developers have already indicated they wish to involve them from the outset.”

Aerial view of the existing Chelsea Barracks site

Chelsea Barracks
image from architects

Chelsea Barracks – Lord Rogers Calls for National Inquiry

16 Jun 2009

Lord Rogers, 75, a Labour peer, has now called for a national inquiry into the Prince’s ‘unconstitutional’ behaviour.

‘The prince always goes round the back to wield his influence, using phone calls or in the case of the Cherlsea barracks a private letter,’ he told the Guardian.

‘I absolutely don’t think this is acceptable. It is directly self-serving and unconstitutional. ‘It is an abuse of power because he is not willing to debate. He has made his representations two and a half years late and anyone but him would have been shown the door.’

The Daily Mail reports: Mr Rogers said the Prince’s actions threatened foreign investment in Britain at a time when it was needed more than ever.

He also questioned the prince’s motives in recommending an alternative design to the Qataris designed by his own charity The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment. ‘Bringing in the Foundation, his own boys if you like, is unbelievably questionable’, he added.
Charles, an arch traditionalist, was incensed that the modernist design was across the road from Sir Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital, home to more than 300 Chelsea Pensioners.

Rogers, who is behind some of the world’s most iconic buildings including the Pompidou centre in Paris, London’s Lloyds building and the notorious Millennium Dome, has clashed with the Prince in the past.

In 1987, his proposals for Paternoster Square by St Paul’s Cathedral were abandoned after the Royal described the design as more offensive than buildings demolished by the Luftwaffe.
He struck again when Rogers was in contention to build the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and his plans were again abandoned at the eleventh hour.
Rogers said the Chelsea barracks could have been ‘one of the best schemes my office has ever produced’.

Speaking from his office in Hammersmith, West London, he spoke of the shock of hearing his hard work would go to waste.
‘It knocked the stuffing out of me and the design team even more. We had hoped Prince Charles had retreated from his position on modern architecture, but he single-handedly destroyed this project.’

BBC Radio Interview with Richard Rogers – Report in full:

The architect Lord Rogers has said he believes Prince Charles has broken the “constitutional understanding” governing the role of the monarchy.
Last week, Lord Rogers’ plan to transform Chelsea Barracks in west London was dropped after the prince told developers it was “unsympathetic”.

The architect told the BBC there could be “a dangerous political clash” unless the power of the royals is re-examined. Clarence House declined to comment on Lord Rogers’ remarks. The 12.8 acre Chelsea Barracks site in west London is owned by Qatari Diar, the state of Qatar’s property investment arm, which is headed by the country’s prime minister.

The developer had planned to spend £1bn building a complex of 552 flats in 17 blocks. It had favoured Lord Rogers’ modernist glass and steel design, but in March, the Prince of Wales told Qatar’s royal family it was “unsuitable”. He said he preferred an alternative classical design for the site by architect Quinlan Terry.

Last week, just days before it was due to be considered by local planning officers, the developers announced that the application had been withdrawn.
Now, in an interview with the BBC’s Today programme, Lord Rogers has claimed that Prince Charles overstepped his remit.

“I think there’s a dangerous precedent that the Prince has entered into, which is very much about how he sees style,” he said. “And the Prince is not willing to debate. If the Prince does not debate there must be a question over why he can participate in political situations.

“I think that anyone who uses his power due to birth [like this] breaks a constitutional understanding – it’s not a law, it’s a constitutional understanding – and a trust we have within our society about the role of people who have received power in that manner.”

Lord Rogers said a committee of constitutional experts should be set up to examine “the powers of the Prince and his ability to change the political direction”.

“If we are to avoid a dangerous political clash then we need someone to solve the problem at a level which is not about this site, but at the level of royalty and their say in political matters,” he said.

Lord Rogers said he doubted the Chelsea Barracks site would be developed for many years. He also warned that other foreign companies could be put off investing in the UK for fear the prince would take a dislike to their building schemes.

Lord Rogers has designed some of the most influential buildings in the world, including the Lloyd’s building in the City of London. Prince Charles’s views on architecture have caused controversy in the past. Just last month architects threatened to boycott his speech to the Royal Institute of British Architects after the Prince sent a letter to the Chelsea Barracks developers asking them to reconsider their decision.

In the speech the Prince attacked “modernist” architecture and called on the industry to design buildings built to last and which put the needs of the people first.
The speech came 25 years after the Princes’ now infamous remarks on the proposed extension of the National Gallery which he described as “a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend.”

The Prince’s love of traditional architecture and passion for the environment can be seen in the development of the village of Poundbury. An urban development project based on the Prince’s book ‘A Vision of Britain’, the site in Dorchester now houses 5,000 people and is complete with eco-housing built to traditional design.

His interest in traditional architecture has also resulted in the establishment of the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment. But his commitment to architecture will not help pacify his critics, many of whom see the Prince as out of date.

Images of design by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners + alternative by Quinlan Terry
Chelsea Barracks London Chelsea Barracks design
images from architects

Chelsea Barracks Proposals Dropped – News Update
12 Jun 2009

The design by Richard Rogers has been abandoned in a shock move by The Qatari royal family.

Furthermore, the nemesis of Richard Rogers is to step into the breach: the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment is to work on this massive project in the heart of London’s exclusive West End using a range of architectural styles.

The Chelsea Barracks Designs by Richard Rogers were to be considered by the planners next week and had won support from Westminster council officers and CABE. The planning application has now been withdrawn.

Prince Charles had written privately to the Qatari prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, asking him to cancel the “unsympathetic” and “unsuitable” Chelsea Barracks design by Richard Rogers. Apparently the Qatari royal family had become concerned at both the amount of opposition and the kind of opponents involved, ie key figures in British society.

Richard Rogers is quoted in The Guardian as saying “After two-and-a-half years of extensive consultation with the local community and statutory consultees, and the publication of an exceptionally complimentary report yesterday on the Chelsea Barracks application from planning officers at Westminster city council, it is extremely disappointing that this application has been withdrawn in response to Prince Charles’s views less than a week before the council was due to consider it.”

Chelsea Barracks Development – Building Information
Apartments : 548
Affordable Housing: approx. 50%
Approx. Cost: £1bn
Key Supporters: CABE, Paul Finch, Peter Ahrends, Piers Gough
Key Opponents: Deputy Mayor of London, Chelsea Barracks Action Group

Chelsea Barracks Architect : Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Prince Charles Lecture at RIBA – 12 May 2009

Letter to Prince Charles re Chelsea Barracks – 20 Apr 2009
Public letter to Prince Charles from list of famous architects and key figures involved in architecture: Chelsea Barracks Letter

Location: Ebury Bridge Road, London, England, UK

London Buildings

Contemporary London Architecture

London Architecture Designs – chronological list

Architecture Tours in London by e-architect

London Architecture Offices

Other Chelsea Barracks Designers

Buildings : Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, architects
Landscape design : Heatherwick Studio

Chelsea Barracks : main page

Candy & Candy : One Hyde Park, Knightsbridge

London Architecture

Chelsea Apartments

RIBA Building

Chelsea Design Centre

Quinlan Terry

Candy & Candy : 21 Chesham Place apartments, London

Prince Charles RIBA Talk

45 Park Lane Hotel
The Office of Thierry W. Despont / Paul Davis + Partners
45 Park Lane Hotel
photo : Adam Parker
45 Park Lane Hotel

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