Qatar insists $4.7bn Chelsea Barracks still on

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Qatar has insisted that a US$4.7bn plan to build hundreds of luxury properties at London’s Chelsea Barracks will go ahead, a newspaper said, despite reports that it had been postponed.

It was last week reported that Qatari Diar, the property investment arm of the oil-rich emirate’s sovereign wealth fund, was reviewing the project because of concerns over the UK economy.

UK daily The Guardian reported that while the project, which was to include 450 luxurious residences and 123 affordable homes, could still be built, “they could sell [the site] any time”.

“[The developer] will take their time and see how the numbers stack up in due course,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

But on Wednesday, London's the Evening Standard newspaper reported that outcry from local council members had led Qatari Diar’s UK Managing Director Jeremy Titchen to reassure the country that it would move ahead with the development.

Local officials expected work to begin at the end of the year or the beginning of next, though the sovereign investor has until December 2016 to commence work.

It has also been revealed that Qatari Diar was the buyer behind a massive 700m euro deal to purchase four luxury hotels in France on Monday.

In what was the largest transaction in the European hotel industry since 2011, property broker Jones Lang LaSalle said Constellation Hotels France had bought the luxury hotel chain Concorde, which includes the l’Hôtel du Louvre in Paris and Martinez in Cannes.

Qatar owns a string of property assets in London, including 80 percent of Western Europe’s tallest building, The Shard, Harrods and the US embassy.

It won approval for the 13-acre Chelsea Barracks site in 2011 but work on the project has not progressed since.

It was forced to scrap its initial modernist design following intervention by Prince Charles, heir to the throne, who personally wrote to the Qatar Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, urging the Gulf state to “bequeath a unique and enduring legacy to London”.

The new plans have been endorsed by royal aids.

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