Prince Charles accused of persuading Emir of Qatar to scrap project

18th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

One of London's leading property developers told a court Tuesday he believed Britain's Prince Charles persuaded the Emir of Qatar to block Britain's most expensive housing project.

Christian Candy is suing his Qatari partners in the prestigious Chelsea Barracks scheme in central London for 81 million pounds (116 million dollars, 95 million euros) for breach of contract.

Candy said in evidence to a High Court judge that he found out in March last year that Prince Charles had written a letter criticising the plans by leading architect Richard Rogers, best known for the iconic Pompidou Centre in Paris.

The heir to the British throne is an outspoken critic of much modern architecture and his traditionalist views have drawn criticism from architects and academics.

Candy said it was following a meeting with the prince that the Emir of Qatar had decided the planning application for the modernist scheme for 650 flats must be withdrawn.

Jeremy Titchen, of development company Qatari Diar (QD), was alleged to have said to Candy's colleague that when the emir was in the UK, the Prince of Wales spoke to him about "how awful the scheme was."

"The emir then went mental at Ghanim (bin Saad al Saad, managing director of Qatari Diar) telling him how awful the design was, and that they must withdraw as soon as possible."

Candy, who owns CPC Group, the other main company in the development consortium, is claiming the Qatari partners in the project withdrew the planning application in breach of their contract.

In his evidence, Candy said: "It was only the intervention of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales that put the planning application in any conceivable doubt."

He added that he believes the planning application would have succeeded "if QD stood wholeheartedly behind it."

The site, in one of London's most expensive residential areas, was sold by the Ministry of Defence for 959 million pounds to the consortium now battling in the High Court.

The hearing is expected to last two weeks.

© 2010 AFP

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