• Kevin Murphy

Chelsea Barracks: Final Phase Plans

The final phase (6B) for the £3 billion Chelsea Barracks regeneration has been submitted to the Westminster Council by Qatari Diar. The development of the former Ministry of Defence site designed by Squire & Partners is to provide 440 new homes, 126 extracare and affordable housing units, a public sports centre and shops on the ground levels as reported by Architect Journal. The first three phases at the site are nearing completion by the builder Mace.

Opposite Chelsea Barracks and the location for the new plans is the Ebury Bridge Estate in Belgravia that proposes 750 new homes with 342 to be ‘affordable.’ The 750 new flats will be on the site of 13 existing buildings that will be demolished.

The fourth and final phase of the 1930’s Ebury Bridge Road residential project is part of a £200+ million plan that will become a hub area and the location for the public sports centre and NHS medical centre designed by Pierce & Company.

The developer has described the location as ’the most coveted 12.8 acres [5ha] in the world.’

A spokesperson for Chelsea Barracks, tells Construction Enquirer :

“We are thrilled that we have been able to finalise the last chapter of Chelsea Barracks, by revisiting the masterplan to finesse the offering within Phase 6B.”

“We identified that there was an opportunity to make a significant contribution to the community, and have over delivered on the number of homes, size requirement of the gym and the facilities and are looking to create a comprehensive retail offering to cater for the community.”

“Phase 6B will be for the benefit of both future and existing residents of this thriving neighbourhood.”

The new homes as part of the Ebury Bridge Estate approved by the Westminster council will have 144 new family-sized ‘affordable’ homes with 87 available for social rent and 57 to be ‘intermediate’ rent.

Cllr Rachael Robathan, Westminster City Council cabinet member for finance, property and regeneration said:

“The Ebury Bridge estate will remain a council housing estate. We wanted to get this right, which is why we spent months listening and talking to the community. A right of return is guaranteed for all secure council tenants and lease holders.”

Considered one of London’s most expensive areas the 29 ‘intermediate units’ will be available for Londoners with household incomes of £90,000 or less who could be residents by housing association allocation. Locals who already live and work in the area will be given first in-line advantage for units on Ebury Bridge Road near Sloane Square.

The Evening Standard reports that :

‘Under normal circumstances “intermediate” flats are offered at a 20 to 30 per cent discount compared to average local rents.’

With a waiting list of 4,222 people the Westminster Council have 41 flats available for ‘social rent’ and another 56 affordable flats for elderly residents.

It is reported that the first residents paid £5.25 million for a two-bedroom flat with the remaining homes now available ‘on application’ with prices now in the tens of millions pounds.

Whilst the new plans are ready to finish the construction the path to completion became complicated after complaints were made by Prince Charles over the original proposals for the Chelsea Barracks site.

Legal Battles

The original architect for the development scheme by Rogers Stirk Harbour was dismissed in 2009 after Prince Charles intervened regarding the plans.

Chelsea Barracks, London

This action caused a withdrawal of the £959 million site by the Qataris and a challenge in court by property tycoon Christian Candy of CPC the property developers to sue Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment for breach of contract.

In July 2010 Mr. Justice Vos ruled that both Qatari Diar and CPC were in a “very difficult position” with Prince Charles’s intervention.

Lord Grabiner QC said in court proceedings that the Prince of Wales had forwarded a letter to Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabar al-Thani in March 2009 over the new development plans of Chelsea Barracks by Lord Rogers. Mr. al-Thani was the Prime Minister and Chairman of the Qatari Diar development company during these proceedings. It was also revealed that the Prince Charles had voiced his concerns over the plans which he described as a ‘brutalist development’ and ‘his heart sank’ to the Qatari leadership whilst having tea in a meeting at Clarence House in May 2009.

The Financial Times (FT) reported at the time:

In CPC’s written submissions to the court, it claims that after the meeting, the Emir allegedly “went mental” with the head of Qatari Diar “about how awful the scheme was.”

Further the FT reports:

‘...an e-mail allegedly sent by Mr Candy which, it was claimed, related to a conversation between Jeremy Titchen, managing director of QD (UK) and Tim Simpson. The court documents claim the e-mail stated that “Titchen told Simpson. . . that when the Emir was in the UK and spoke to POW (Prince of Wales), POW pissed in his ear about how awful the scheme was . . . ”

Other allegations were levelled at QD by CPC in regards to email destruction and that witnesses lied under oath.

The case was eventually settled and Christian Candy won the High Court case with the judge stating that the intervention by Prince Charles was “unexpected and unwelcome”.

Eventually Christian Candy and CPC sold their stake in the site to Qatari Diar.

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