By Shane McGinley
Project to be first major public garden square in central London in over a century.
Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company, the property arm of Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, has unveiled its new masterplan for its redevelopment of the Chelsea Barracks project in London, the company has announced.
Qatari Diar acquired the Chelsea Barracks site from the UK’s Ministry of Defence in 2008 for £959m ($1.479bn). Original designs for the redevelopment incurred heavy criticism, with Kit Malthouse, the deputy Mayor of London, describing the modern glass and steel design as “monstrous” and “nothing short of urban vandalism."
This followed a letter written by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, to the Qatari Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jaber Jasim Al Thani, urging him to reconsider the project’s design. The Prince also commissioned Quinlan Terry, his favourite architect, to design an alternative and more conservative design.
New development plans were proposed in August last year and the new masterplan was created by Dixon Jones, Squire and Partners and Kim Wilkie Associates, following consultation with residents’ groups.
The 12.8 acre gated community project, which will be the first significant new public garden squares to have been created in central London for over a century, includes residential elements, a boutique hotel, a community sports facility and a medical centre.
The new proposals were presented this week to members from two groups, the Residents’ Liaison Group and Community Liaison Group, and will be submitted to Westminster City Council as an outline planning application later this year.
A Qatari Diar spokesperson said: “Qatari Diar has a long-term commitment to major investment at this site in order to create a sustainable new neighbourhood for London.
"Thousands of local people have been involved in an extensive consultation process that has been carried out over the past seven months. This includes regular meetings with specially formed Community and Residents' Liaison Groups which, between them, represent the interests of over 6,000 local residents, and many local businesses, schools, community services and amenity groups.”
The Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company is wholly owned by the Qatar Investment Authority and is currently involved in more than 35 projects in more than 20 countries around the world.
In the UK, it has a £5bn ($7.7bn) worth of projects under way including its work at the US Embassy building in Grosvenor Square and its development of the 300m tall Shard Tower, which when complete will be Europe’s tallest building.