Prince Charles's Design Protest Not `Fatal' to Project, Qatari Diar Said

The real-estate investment arm of Qatar’s sovereign-wealth fund considered ignoring opposition from Prince Charles over its plan for a London luxury apartment complex, saying the heir to England’s throne had failed to stop other developments he didn’t like.

Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co. executive John Ward said in an April 2009 internal e-mail that London had approved other developers’ designs for the Shard skyscraper -- which will be the city’s tallest -- and the One New Change office complex near St. Paul’s Cathedral, over the prince’s objections to their modern appearances, according to documents revealed at a court hearing this week in London.

The Prince of Wales’s “track record on public pronouncements on building design is not always one-way traffic,” Ward said in the e-mail. “His public views are not always fatal.”

Qatari Diar withdrew its site plan application for the landmark Chelsea Barracks in June 2009, claiming it would likely be rejected. Its U.K. developer, CPC Group Ltd., sued claiming that Qatari Diar was obliged to submit the plan or pay costs. The developer argues the plan could have been approved and was wrongfully abandoned to appease Prince Charles.

The breach-of-contract case went to trial last month, with CPC, controlled by real-estate entrepreneur Christian Candy, seeking 81 million pounds ($120 million) it says it would have received if the complex had been built.

Upsetting the Prince

The e-mails showed the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, wanted the Chelsea Barracks plan scrapped to avoid upsetting the prince, CPC lawyer Anthony Stephen Grabiner has said in court.

The e-mail from Ward is among dozens of messages revealed after last month’s trial because Qatari Diar’s lawyers failed to search a server in London. Grabiner told Judge Peter Smith at a June 14 hearing they prove Qatari Diar trial witnesses lied while testifying.

Qatari Diar spokeswoman Georgiana Gibbs declined to comment when reached by phone today.

A joint venture of CPC and Qatari Diar paid 959 million pounds for Chelsea Barracks in January 2008. In November of that year, Qatari Diar bought out CPC’s stake for an initial payment of about 38 million pounds and agreed to make 81 million pounds in deferred payments, CPC said. Candy was retained for project management, design and marketing.

The Chelsea Barracks development was planned to include mixed-use buildings of between five and 13 stories, comprising 638 residential units, as well as hotel space, a community center, retail units and restaurants, court papers show.

The case is CPC Group Ltd. v. Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company, case no. 4260/09, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division (London).

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net.

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