Prince Charles urged to block bold, futuristic Iranian embassy next to Victorian mansion blocks

August 1st, 2010 - 1:44 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Aug.1 (ANI): Britain’s Prince Charles has been asked to intervene and prevent Iran from building a brand new embassy and Islamic cultural centre next to a historic church in one of Britain’s most expensive neighbourhoods.

According to The Telegraph, the proposed new embassy, the plot of land, which is owned by the Iranian government, is close to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. It is also less than 20 feet from the St Augustine’s Church, which is a grade II listed church designed by William Butterfield, the renowned Victorian architect.

It is expected to cost tens of millions of pounds to build and is a bold, futuristic building set among Victorian mansion blocks and Georgian terraces in west London.

The new building’s modern design has appalled wealthy residents and heritage experts alike, and is located several hundred yards from Iran’s existing embassy.

Designed by an Austrian-based Daneshgar Architects, the plans for the five-storied building were lodged as far back as January with the local council, but residents have claimed that they only learned of the development in July - and a fortnight after public consultation closed.

They are now calling on Prince Charles to use his influence to try to stop the project before it is too late.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has broken with normal policy and refused to post any details of the plan on its website, citing security issues.

Members of the public must instead visit the town hall where they will only be shown the plans - which run to almost 200 pages and which cannot be copied - provided they bring a passport or other photo ID.

Sir Simon Jenkins, the writer and architectural expert, said it was wrong that the plans had not been made more easily available to the public and pointed to the full and public consultation undertaken by the US government over its proposals for a new embassy in south London.

Ian Dungavell, director of the Victorian Society, said: “This looks like an attention-seeking piece of architecture. From the single image I’ve seen, I am worried about how it will affect the setting of St Augustine’s Church. The Victorian Society is also concerned whenever local residents feel that they have not been properly consulted about planning applications which affect them, especially when the sites are within conservation areas.”

Maria von Moltke, 74, who lives about 100 yards away, said: “I will be writing to Prince Charles to ask for his help in intervening. We haven’t been given any notice about this and no time to even form a protest group.”

In a telephone call, a spokesman for the Iranian embassy said he was not aware of the plans to move the embassy but said a colleague might have some knowledge.

The telephone call was then cut off and The Sunday Telegraph was unable to reach the spokesman again.

Armin Daneshgar, the architect, was also unavailable for comment. (ANI)

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