Poundbury is an experimental new town or urban extension on the outskirts of Dorchester in the county of Dorset, England. The development is built on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. It is built according to the principles of Charles, Prince of Wales, who is known for holding strong views challenging the post-war trends in town planning that were suburban in character. Since starting in 1993, the town has received both criticism and praise from architects and design critics.
The development is built to a traditional high-density urban pattern, rather than a suburban one, focused on creating an integrated community of shops, businesses, and private and social housing. There is no zoning. The planners say they are designing the development around people rather than the car, and they aim to provide a high-quality environment, from the architecture to the selection of materials, to the signposts, and the landscaping. To avoid constant construction, utilities are buried in common utility ducts under the town. Common areas are maintained by a management company to which all residents belong. It consists of 35% social housing and is designed for sustainable development, which includes being carbon-neutral.
To some degree, the project shows similarities with the contemporary New Urbanism movement, except that the design influences are European. The designs of the houses are in traditional and new classical styles, with period features such as bricked-up windows, a feature found on many old British buildings, due to the window tax.
Poundbury has a population of 3,000 residents and provides over 2,000 people employment in over 180 businesses. The town is expected to be completed by 2025 with population increase estimated to be approximately 6,000 residents.
Although construction started in October 1993, the overall plan was conceived in the late 1980s by the Luxembourgian architect Leon Krier, and its development and architectural co-ordination is still ongoing under Krier's direction. It is expected that the four plan phases will be developed over 25 years with a total of 2,500 dwellings and a population of approximately 6,000.
Greetings card entrepreneur Andrew Brownsword sponsored the £1 million development of the market hall at Poundbury, designed by John Simpson and based on early designs, particularly the one in Tetbury.
As of 2016, Poundbury has a population of 3,000 residents and population is expected to increase by 2025 when completed to almost 6,000 residents.
Economy and employment
Poundbury has over 2,000 people working in 180 local businesses. In 2017, businesses increased to 185 creating 2,345 jobs. Businesses include a Waitrose store, a technical company which produces parts for airplane wings and a chocolate factory among many others. One notable local employer since 2000 is the breakfast food manufacturer and exporter Dorset Cereals, which employs more than 100 people at its purpose-built barn factory. Reportedly there's still more space to start about 80 businesses.
Poundbury has two primary schools in the catchment area, The Prince of Wales and Damers First School. Damers First School was already an existing school in Dorchester but relocated to Poundbury in 2017, where a new school was built.
Attractions and landmarks
Due to Poundbury's unique looking buildings and plan, the town has been visited by architects, government officials, planners, housebuilders, and developers from around the world.
Tourist attractions is centered around the Queen Mother Square, it includes Strathmore House in honour of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother's heritage which has been called a replica of Buckingham Palace. In 2016, the Queen Mother statue was unveiled at the square by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Also in 2016, a pub named the Duchess of Cornwall Inn was opened in honour of the Duchess of Cornwall.
Every year in August, the Dorset Food & Arts Festival is held at the Queen Mother's Square attracting thousands of people. The festival showcases the town's fine produce and arts and also raises money for charities.
Criticism and praise
Poundbury's aesthetics have been criticised by several commentators. Architect Magazine’s Witold Rybczynski, has said that "Poundbury embodies social, economic, and planning innovations that can only be called radical."
Following New Urbanist principles, Poundbury was intended to reduce car dependency and encourage walking, cycling, and public transport. A survey conducted at the end of the first phase, however, showed that car use was higher in Poundbury than in the surrounding (rural) district of West Dorset. Nonetheless, the community is receiving positive recognition from New Urbanist publications such as Better Cities and Towns.
British architecture and design critic Oliver Wainwright of The Guardian states, "Poundbury, the Prince of Wales’s traditionalist village in Dorset, has long been mocked as a feudal Disneyland. But a growing and diverse community suggests it’s getting a lot of things right."
The new Dorset Fire and Rescue Service HQ/Fire station nears completion September 2008. In 2016 Dorset Fire and Rescue Service merged with Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service. This meant that the new services H/Q moved to Salisbury and the Dorset building became support offices and Dorchester Community Fire Station.
- Fairford Leys – A very similar project located on the edge of Aylesbury
- Poundbury Hill – an Iron Age hill fort near Poundbury
- HRH Charles, Prince of Wales: A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture (Doubleday, 1989) ISBN 0-385-26903-X
- Leon Krier: Architecture: Choice or Fate (Andreas Papadakis Publishers, 1998) ISBN 1-901092-03-8
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- Pentreath, Ben, How the Poundbury project became a model for innovation, Financial Times, 1 November 2013
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- "Look familiar? Prince Charles builds a spectacular house fit for a Queen Mother with Buckingham Palace lookalike tribute to his late grandmother (including eight apartments costing £650,000 each)". Dailymail. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
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- "The Duchess of Cornwall Inn Opens in Poundbury". November 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
- "Thousands go along to enjoy the fare at Dorset Food and Arts Festival in Poundbury". The Argus. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
- "Pounbury". dorsetfestival.org. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
- "Celebrate Dorset best at the Dorset food and art festival". Retrieved 12 July 2018.
- Rybczynski, Witold (3 December 2013). Behind the Façade of Prince Charles's Poundbury. Architect.
- Bayley, Stephen (7 December 2008). "I'll show you a real carbuncle, Charles". The Guardian.
To visit Poundbury is to be delivered to the furniture floor of a provincial department store in 1954, translated into architecture. It is fake, heartless, authoritarian and grimly cute.
- Watson, G.; Bentley, I.; Roaf, S.; Smith, P. (2004). Learning from Poundbury. Research for the West Dorset District Council and the Duchy of Cornwall. Oxford Brookes University.
- Steuteville, Robert (5 November 2013). "At 20, Poundbury is winning converts". Better Cities and Towns. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013.
- "Dorset and Wiltshire fire services merge". BBC. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
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