There was a time that when royalty got into a spat, they’d send their best men into battle on their behalf. Not any more, though: these days, they write passive aggressive letters and hope planning laws will do their bidding for them.
But despite Prince Charles’ best efforts, a development of ‘ultra-luxury’ flats at the site where Chelsea Barracks once stood has finally got planning approval from Westminster Council, seven years after Qatari Diar (the Qatari sovereign wealth fund) bought the site from the Ministry of Defence for just under £1bn.
The drama surrounding the ensuing designs for super-ultra-luxury flats is pretty well known: the Qataris came up with one idea, but Prince Charles waded in, calling the scheme a ‘gigantic experiment with the very soul of our capital city’. So they went back to the drawing board, this time with Christian Candy (he of One Hyde Park - the original super-ultra-luxury flats), who then sold his stake to QD. Then there was a court case, etc etc etc. At one point, the designs included allotments - for the super-rich gardner.
So what’s in the latest plans? Three blocks of 74 apartments plus 123 ‘affordable’ homes and even a public swimming pool, as well as ‘100 new trees’ and five acres of public gardens, streets and squares. This time, the scheme is designed by Squire and Partners, and ‘reflect[s] London’s architectural traditions’. Work is expected - finally - to begin this year. What a relief.