Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

After Eight Years, Work Begins on PS3 Billion Chelsea Barracks Project

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

After Eight Years, Work Begins on PS3 Billion Chelsea Barracks Project

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Prynn Consumer Business Editor

CONSTRUCTION of hundreds of homes at the ill-starred Chelsea Barracks site finally gets under way today eight years after it was sold for almost PS1 billion.

The milestone marks the start of a crucial new chapter in one of the most protracted and controversial property sagas of recent decades, that has dragged in figures such as Prince Charles, star achitect Lord Rogers, developer Christian Candy and the Prime Minister of Qatar.

Building work began this morning after more than a year of preparation and clearing of the "super-prime" 13-acre site on Chelsea Bridge Road, south of Sloane Square, which was sold by the Ministry of Defence in 2007.

Today's breakthrough means that the first phase of three blocks of up to eight storeys and a cafe designed by archi-tects Squire and Partners will start emerging from the former parade ground.

The 74 apartments in phase one are expected to have price tags ranging from PS2 million to PS50 million and are scheduled to be completed by 2018.

It comes six years after a dramatic intervention by Prince Charles scuppered the original modernist proposal from Lord Rogers, which the heir to the throne said "made my heart sink" in a notorious letter to the Qatari prime minister and head of developers Qatari Diar Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al Thani.

More recently there had been fears that the Gulf kingdom was preparing to walk away from the project when the site lay idle for two years after it received outline planning permission from Westminster council in 2011.

The completed PS3 billion scheme is due to have up to 448 homes, including 123 designated "affordable", as well as five acres of gardens and open spaces, a public sports centre, shops and a children's playground.

The start of constriction work triggers a PS39 million initial payment from Qatari Diar's subsidiary Project Blue to fund affordable housing elsewhere in Westminster. A second payment when phase two starts will take the total contribution to PS78 million.

The site is ultimately owned by the Qatari royal family headed by Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. …

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