Rogers blasted by ex-partner over housing scheme

Mark Wilding

RSHP Deptford housing

Marco Goldschmied accuses architect of hypocrisy

Marco Goldschmied has launched a broadside against his former business partner Richard Rogers over his firm’s latest project in
a deprived area of south-east London.

The two men fell out when Goldschmied abruptly left the practice in 2004. Since then the former RIBA president has fought legal battles with Rogers over the Thames Wharf site where Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners is based.

In a letter to BD this week Goldschmied accuses his former partner of hypocrisy over the amount of affordable housing in the Deptford scheme. Planning documents show the £60 million scheme contains 6% affordable housing — none of which is included in the Rogers Stirk Harbour-designed element of the project.

He said: “I am delighted to see that Rogers is now publicly declaring his commitment to designing affordable housing.

“After his recent unfortunate excursion into the carbuncle shortlisted ‘Non-Dom Mansions’ otherwise known as One Hyde Park … this bit of PR is very timely. Rogers is to be congratulated for his Damascene conversion.”

In an interview with BD last week Rogers stressed his commitment to low-cost housing schemes which he admitted were “hard work and low profit”.

Goldschmied claims that the proposed scheme in Deptford is based on a 2003 design, which was deemed unviable because of affordable housing requirements at that time. These have since been relaxed by the mayor.

“Three cheers for the recession if it brings out the caring socialist in everyone and gets some decent, if 94% ‘unaffordable’, housing built in Deptford,” he wrote.

Eight units of the 132 proposed at the site are contained within St Paul’s house, a part of the scheme designed by Ash Sakula.

A spokeswoman for the project’s developer Cathedral Group defended the project. “The level of affordable housing was agreed with the council and reflects the much wider regenerative benefits of the project that is proposed,” she said.

Lewisham Borough Council was unavailable to comment. But the council’s planning policies state: “The starting point for [affordable housing] negotiations will be a contribution of 50% affordable housing on qualifying sites across the borough.”

A copy of Goldschmied’s letter has been shared with Rogers, who declined to comment.

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