The future of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ designs for Chelsea Barracks was hanging in the balance as Building went to press on Wednesday
Rumours persisted that Rogers’ plan would be dropped, even though if is understood Jeremy Titchen, managing director of Qatari Diar’s UK operations, made contact with some project team members to assure them of the architect’s continued involvement with the scheme, blaming partisan private briefings for the media storm.
Nevertheless, the architect was called in for an meeting with senior figures at Qatari Diar late on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the future of the scheme.
A source close to the project team confirmed that the meeting had been arranged at short notice. He said: “It’s frankly quite disturbing that this is happening at the eleventh-hour.”
The national media reported sources that said Rogers’ designs were “dead in the water”, thanks to opposition from public figures including Prince Charles, who branded them “unsympathetic” in a letter to the emir of Qatar.
But sources close to the £1bn scheme told Building that Qatari Diar was still committed to Rogers’ design, which is due to go in front of Westminster council’s planning committee on 18 June.
It’s frankly quite disturbing that this is happening at the 11th hour
Source close to project team
One said: “It would be commercial suicide to change its mind now. This application represents three years of hard work and heavy investment.”
Amendments were made to the scheme last week after consulting local stakeholders. These included cutting a tower designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris from 13 storeys to six.
A spokesperson for Project Blue (Guernsey), the development joint venture led by Qatari Diar, said on Wednesday that the Rogers scheme was still “on the table”.
He said: “There are various parties who want to wreck this. We are engaged in dialogue with the scheme that is on the table.”