A Princely price

Friday 12 Jun 2009

Planning application pulled for Rogers' Chelsea Barracks scheme

Project Blue (Guernsey) Limited (“PBGL”), the owner and developer of the Chelsea Barracks site, in London's prestigious borough, has dropped its application following months of opposition from local residents and the Prince of Wales.

The move signals the end of a tug of war between architects supporting the Richard Rogers' scheme and the Prince, who recently apologised at the RIBA for a similar incident in 1984 where he described designs for a new wing of the National Gallery as a 'monstrous carbuncle', leading to their swift scrapping. His opposition to Rogers' Chelsea Barracks design was manifested in the commissioning of alternative designs for the site. A WAN poll showed that two thirds of architects were in support of Rogers' design over the Prince's commissioned drawings.

Now that Rogers' design has been pulled a spokesman for PBGL advised that they will now be approaching selected firms to develop alternative designs for the £1billion housing scheme and that plans will now be developed in cooperation with the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment.

"We recognise the complexity of the planning process and we are pleased to have had the support of the planners and many consultees including the GLA, CABE, The Royal Hospital and some of our neighbours," said PBGL's spokesman. "We acknowledge however that there are differing views from various other quarters; we are very grateful to Westminster for the time and effort spent on the process to date and look forward to working very closely with them in the coming months. As part of the process to find the right solution we are already in discussion with The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment."

In April, 5 Stirling Prize winning architects had fought for Rogers' design in the UK press, signing their name to a letter which in part read: “It is essential in a modern democracy that private comments and behind-the-scenes lobbying by the prince should not be used to skew the course of an open and democratic planning process that is currently under way.” Jacques Herzog, Lord Foster, Zaha Hadid, Renzo Piano and Frank Gehry will no doubt share Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners' disappointment. A spokesperson for the firm said:

“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’ views less than a week before the Council was due to consider it.”

Read the RIBA response HERE

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