Architect Fitzroy Robinson is suing the developer of a Raffles luxury hotel in central London for £1.7m over alleged non-payment of fees. The practice, which has a turnover of £6.7m, claimed in a High Court writ that it has received no payment since being hired to design the £150m Merchant Court Hotel in Westminster in 1998 by British Virgin Islands-based Clementine Investments.
The move has put the future of the project in doubt, although the tenant, Singapore-based Raffles International, says the hotel is still due to open in 2002.
A source close to Fitzroy Robinson said confusion surrounded the future of the 488-room hotel, which is supposed to be built on part of the former Westminster Hospital site near the Houses of Parliament. The source said: “Nobody has a clue what’s happening. It’s all up in the air right now.”
The scheme is still awaiting detailed planning permission. A spokesperson at Westminster council’s planning department said that no work had been carried out on the site for 18 months. She said: “It’s unlikely the hotel scheme is going to go ahead.” This was denied by Raffles International. A spokesperson said: “As far as I know, nothing has changed. The development is still progressing and is scheduled to open in 2002.”
Multidisciplinary practice Ove Arup & Partners is also suing Clementine Investments. It is claiming £352 500, also for non-payment of fees.
The site, on the corner of Horseferry Road, received outline planning permission in December 1998, two months after Raffles secured a contract to manage the hotel. The development was expected to be the first of Raffles’ Merchant Court brand in Europe.
Clementine Investments originally bought the site from developer Ballymore Properties. Ballymore has already developed an 11-storey apartment block and an office building let to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on the site.