Poundbury is an experimental new project situated just outside west Dorchester, on land controlled by the Duchy Of Cornwall and Charles, Prince of Wales. It’s of no great surprise that the new town has continued to court controversy since its inception in 1993. Subject to both derision and admiration alike, the anachronistic facets of the town are as interesting as they are controversial.
Under the direction of Charles, Lien Krier (a famous architect from Luxembourg) drew up the overall plan for the town to be in four phases of development over 25 years, with completion targeted in 2026. There are no business ‘zones’, so all types of buildings intermix freely – a real medieval fantasy.
Design purists accuse the place of looking like a folksy pastiche with a hint of Arts & Crafts here and a touch of the Victorian terrace there, while anti-royalist cynics say Prince Charles should stick to giving people knighthoods instead of building homes. Yet it would be hard to deny Poundbury’s achievements.
More than 4,000 people now live there, with 2,500 working in 220 local businesses; 35 percent of the homes are affordable, rented or owned by people from local social housing lists.
A Brief History of Poundbury
There really isn’t any history before 1993 for Poundbury town as we know it today, although Poundbury Camp, associated monuments and a part of a Roman aqueduct lie nearby. According to official records:
“Poundbury consists of a major settlement complex which spans four millennia from at least the late Neolithic period onwards. Its central focus is an Iron Age hillfort with multiple defences which together with Maiden Castle, Hod Hill and others formed an important network of hillforts within the Durotrigian tribal area. Its significance is indicated by the fact that the Romans founded the civitas capital of Durnovaria alongside the hillfort soon after the invasion. The cemetery associated with the town is one of the largest Late Roman examples so far identified and archaeologically excavated in Britain if not Europe, and its Christian connections give it exceptional added value.”
So, four thousand years then; quite a provenance!