I note in this week's news that a letter written by Prince Charles - described by a High Court judge as "unexpected and unwelcome" - led to the cancellation of the multi-billion pound Chelsea Barracks development in West London. This royal faux-pas will bag the developers millions in damages. It makes me question what was HRH up to? You see, I thought the days when sovereigns decided such matters were long gone but obviously I must be mistaken.
All right, I concede, the Prince didn't actually decide the matter, and ironically he was making a point about the aesthetics of the development that many might well agree with, however, we have democratic processes for deciding these things and surely part of living in a free, open and fair society is that we are all equal - Prince Charles as well - and we must all live with decisions we don't necessarily like providing they have emerged from a due process. This development was approved by all the proper democratically elected authorities.
I don't mind confessing that one of the reasons why this matters so much to me is self interest. Many of Timbmet's customers would profit greatly from this particular high-end development at a time when work is not generally so plentiful. For the timber industry that means a lot of hardwood and veneered boards would have been sold.
The high-end joinery sector benefits massively from schemes like Chelsea Barracks. Candy and Candy, the developers, already have a track record for bringing quite extraordinary innovative projects to the London residential property market. Lord Rogers, the world renowned architect, can also claim a proven record of designing buildings that truly enhance London's architectural pedigree. These apartments would have challenged the core skills of British woodworking with groundbreaking and extravagant designs. The impetus an exclusive development of this nature gives to our industry drives standards of global excellence that we badly need to nurture.
As frustrating as it may be that UK property developers can be delayed for years by our cumbersome planning process, when a decision is finally generated it's really unfortunate that HRH goes and sabotages it. So here's my big idea; lets go and sue Prince Charles for the business we have all lost as a result of his letter writing. No doubt he thinks he has done a good turn for London's sky line. I think he has let our industry down badly by interfering in a process that society has decided is the democratic one which should not be meddled with by privilege laden princes.