First Poundbury, now Bahrain: Should Prince Charles really be selling town planning to despots?

Deal worth £700,000 signed with regime guilty of using excessive forces against pro-democracy activists

For much of the world, Bahrain is notable for unpalatable reasons related to its repression of democracy protests. For the Prince of Wales, the Gulf state is of more interest – it is claimed – as a business opportunity for the charity set up to expound his ideas on town planning.

The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community has signed a £700,000 agreement with the Bahraini government to advise on a sustainable-housing development inspired by Charles’s Poundbury village in Dorset.

The deal, announced a week after the Prince, inset, hosted Bahrain’s Minister of Housing at Clarence House, was sharply criticised by campaigners who said it deflected attention from human-rights abuses in the Gulf state perpetuated during bloody protests for reform in 2011.

Three years ago, the Prince found himself in hot water after it emerged his personal lobbying of the Emir of Qatar about the proposed £3bn redevelopment of the Chelsea Barracks in central London led to a drastic revision of plans which the Prince had described as a “gigantic experiment with the very soul of our capital city”.

Clarence House said that Prince Charles had been “kept informed” of the signing of the Bahraini deal but underlined that the decision to enter into the agreement with the Bahraini Housing Minister, Basim al-Hamer, had been taken by staff at the £8m foundation, of which he is the president.

Clarence House said the Prince’s long-standing personal ties with the Bahraini royal family had not played a direct role in the negotiations for the agreement. Charles escorted Bahrain’s Crown Prince around Poundbury in 2007. According to the Court Circular, Charles also met Mr Al-Hamer in London on 26 April. Clarence House said the agreement had been signed prior to the meeting.

Campaigners said the cementing of ties with Bahrain by the foundation was inappropriate at a time when Bahrain is facing strong criticism for the slow pace of reforms following the brutal quashing of pro-democracy protests.

An independent inquiry found that Bahraini security forces used excessive force against peaceful protesters, some of whom were tortured, ill-treated and denied fair trials.

Graham Smith, the chief executive of Republic, which campaigns for the replacement of the monarchy, said: “Prince Charles should be ashamed. By orchestrating this immoral deal he is giving legitimacy to one of the world’s most repressive regimes. The Bahraini people need solidarity and support – not their own Poundbury.”

The agreement with the Prince’s Foundation, to last for 11 months, will be focused on proposals to develop a 5 sq km area along coastline in the south of Bahrain for up to 4,000 homes.

The Foundation underlined that the project was aimed at meeting the needs of communities from housing to infrastructure as well as passing on knowledge to Bahraini officials for future building schemes.

In a statement, the foundation, which last year raised £8.2m and spent £7.9m, said it was helping to meet a housing shortfall in Bahrain and part of a process of engagement with the country. It said: “This project aims to help all the communities that live in Bahrain and is in line with the objectives of the British Government.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Sport
football
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test