Prince Charles has 'veto' over major new developments, claims leading architect

Richard Rogers says developers now check with Prince before committing investment

The influence of the Prince of Wales over major construction projects has become so great that developers now seek prior approval from Clarence House before making any commitment, the leading architect Richard Rogers has claimed.

Lord Rogers of Riverside, who has previously clashed with Prince Charles over his modernist designs, believes that his nemesis now has an effective veto over any significant additions to the capital.

Developers must square projects with the heir to the throne first to avoid the financial risk of a major undertaking being scuppered by a direct intervention from the great opponent of architectural novelty, who has succeeded in blocking several building plans.

In a New Yorker magazine profile of Rogers, the architect reveals his delight at being invited to collaborate on a new central London development “likely to involve several hundred million dollars”.

The article claims that Rogers was “a little surprised to have been asked, given his troubled relationship with Prince Charles… According to Rogers, developers now tend to check in with the Prince before committing to any major construction.”

The architect called it “an amazing situation! But they’re into minimising risk - and Prince Charles is a risk.”

Rogers, 80, saw his proposed £3 billion redevelopment plan for Chelsea Barracks abandoned after a lobbying campaign by the Prince, who wrote to the Emir of Qatar complaining that the “brutalist” scheme for 552 glass and steel flats at the prime London site “made my heart sink”.

In 2011, the Qataris blocked Rogers’ plan and backed an alternative development, supported by the Prince, although the site remains a windswept wasteland with little progress made since Westminster Council granted planning permission for the development.

Lord Rogers accused the prince of “an abuse of power” and called his exercise of behind closed doors influence with the Qatari royal family “unconstitutional” behaviour.

Developers have sought to avoid incurring the Prince’s wrath ever since his notorious 1984 broadside against modernist architecture, in which he attacked a “monstrous carbuncle” planned for the National Gallery.

Architects given the Prince’s blessing for their incorporation of his favoured classical style would be attached to projects. Even when Charles did not succeed in getting a development dropped, his intervention could prompt expensive delays, sometimes for years.

Clarence House said that the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, the independent charity established by Charles “is often approached for advice and works with local authorities to encourage sustainable development built around people."

However Clarence House said it had no evidence that developers were directly seeking Charles’s approval for building projects. A spokesman for the Prince said: “Developers do not seek planning approval from the Prince of Wales as planning development approvals lie with local planning authorities. If developers choose to send the Prince of Wales information about upcoming developments that is up to them but the Prince does not, and cannot, grant planning permission."

The spokesman added: “The Prince does regularly receive letters from members of the public complaining about developments and planning decisions. The Prince has received this sort of feedback from the public for decades, which is why his interest in the built environment goes beyond individual developments and architectural style to encouraging a sense of community and pride of place and improving the quality of people's lives overall.”

Lord Rogers’s claim that the Prince’s pre-emptive approval is now mandatory for developers reflects wider concerns over the influence that Charles wields in public life.

It emerged this week that three members of the Prince of Wales’s staff were seconded to work fulltime in Whitehall. Labour MPs accused the Prince of using them to “advance his own private agenda.”

Previously, House of Commons records showed that six government departments sought the heir to the throne’s consent before proceeding with Bills on a wide range of issues including the London 2012 Olympics, gambling, road safety and even shipwrecks since 2005.

Prince Charles’s wrecking balls:

  • Describes plans for Peter Ahrends’ modernist new wing of the National Gallery as a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much loved and elegant friend” in 1984 speech. The wing was scrapped.
  • Called plans for skyscraper by German-born modernist Mies van der Rohe at One Poultry, London a “glass stump” which would “ruin” the skyline. Plans were replaced by a Sir James Stirling design which Charles said “looks rather like an old 1930s wireless.”
  • Claimed the Luftwaffe had done less damage to London than a Richard Rogers’s scheme designed for Paternoster Square, next to St Paul's Cathedral. The Rogers plan was dropped but the Prince failed to impose his own classical solution in 1996.
  • Warned Cardiff Bay redevelopment against replicating London’s Docklands where warehouses were “wantonly destroyed”. Plans for an opera house in the Wales Millennium Centre area by modernist Zaha Hadid were scrapped.
  • Calls 2003 Renzo Piano design for 1,000ft Shard of Glass “an enormous salt cellar” in a London Bridge Tower speech but doesn’t actively seek to prevent building of Europe’s tallest skyscraper.
Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen