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You are in: Dorset > History > Local History > Poundbury

Poundbury Village

Poundbury Village

Poundbury

Poundbury is the mid-90s brainchild of Prince Charles. It now houses 5,000 residents and has become an eco-friendly 'model' village. Richard Wheale, a Dorchester teacher with an eye for architecture, takes a personal look at the development.

Poundbury Village developed from an idea by Prince Charles. It's a mix of town houses, cottages, shops and businesses at the edge of Dorchester.

The first house went on sale in Poundbury in 1994. The development is now home to an estimated 5,000 people.

The idea behind it was simple: to use traditional architecture to build a new community where people would live and work in close proximity.

Richard Wheal tours Poundbury

Richard Wheal tours Poundbury

But do the traditional elements combine to create a picturesque village? Or is the attempt merely mocking traditional Dorset architecture?

BBC Dorset took a tour with Dorchester resident Richard Wheale, a local teacher with an interest in architecture and design. He gave us his own personal take on the town.

The Poundbury Boundary

To walk from Dorchester into Poundbury, you have to cross a path. It's bordered by a tall fence on one side, and a wall on the other. At the end of the path is a row of bollards.

Richard Wheale believes these mark a boundary between Poundbury and the nearby housing estate.

He says, "Everything from the bollards to the fences is to make sure that the 'wrong' kind of people don't get in. It's entirely snobbishness."

Poundbury Village - the outskirts

Architectural Metaphors

A rounded corner catches Richard's eye. "In the olden days, square walls would be rounded to make way for large hay carts. It would stop them from getting damaged."

"So what we've got here is an imitation damaged wall. It's there to make fun of Dorset life."

Richard then spots a particularly picturesque house. It looks like an old fashioned cottage where brick has been used to replace the stone that’s fallen out.

"We know it's not old because there's a sign on the side of the house saying 1994," explains Richard.

 "It's not traditional – only the very superficials are apparently traditional. It's possibly ironic."

Next in Richard's firing line, is a house with blocked up windows.

"In the eighteenth century, people blocked up their windows so they'd have to pay less tax. These houses were built in 1990s – yet we have the pretence of someone avoiding paying council tax!"

Dickensian Dorset

What does work for Richard, though, is a walkway lined with window-boxed cottages. There are trees growing from the middle of the road and lichen has attached itself to the walls. It looks, in Richard's view, lived in.

"This does look like an old fashioned Dorset street. They've used traditional materials which accept plants and it looks as if it has organically grown.

Poundbury Village - the square

But there is still a Dickensian drain running down the middle of the walkway and you still half expect buxom wenches and shabby girls to come running around the corner.

Poundbury is known as a 'model' eco-village, and the development's traffic calming measure get a definite thumbs up.

"There are surprising corners but more than that, the roads are broken up. Instead of having lines painted across them, there are stones which make it look as if there are pavements and ditches."

New Urbanism

The developments at Poundbury are part of a wider movement called New Urbanism. One of the first examples was Seaside in Florida which was also where The Truman Show was filmed.

Despite nicknames such as 'Toy Town' or 'Charles Town', Poundbury remains a popular place to live. A quick chat with passing residents reveals that many have moved from outside the county, drawn by its reputation as an eco-friendly model village.

last updated: 08/08/2008 at 14:06
created: 11/12/2007

Have Your Say

Do you think that Poundbury is pastiche? Or do you think we should congratulate the designers on creating a picturesque model village?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Caroline Gamble US
Sounds like your Prince is nostalgic for the days when a king was a king.

PH
It's all very well to build houses for 5000 residents - perhaps Charles could cough up for some school places to go with that?

Ian Thorpe
Rather than providing much needed housing for the people of West Dorset Poundbury is a fantasy village with an over population of self deluded yuppie townies who seem convinced that they have found some sort of rural idyll.

Sally
Poundbury itself is nice but there are two real issues here:1 - the building work is now heading towards Maiden castle and it will only be a matter of time before the whole area near Maiden Castle is destroyed by the Toy Town2 - And this is most important, Charles has increased the population with disregard to schools, hospitals and transport... key things to ensure sustainability of the communityOh and are many of those on here aware that residents have very strict regulations about what they can and can't do in their properties? TV aerials, putting up of pictures on walls, painting and the colours you are allowed to paint... not sure if thats sustainable!

T
I went to poundbury on a school trip and had to ask questions and some people were rude because apparently loads of people come asking questions and they were fed up of it. Poundbury looked a bit weird tho, it was too clean and tidy and there was nothing there!

rose
poundubury is my favorite village

Thomas
Poundbury is a great success and demonstrates an elegance, distinctiveness and charm that is sadly missing from most early 21st Century development. Almost all our architects in the past 50 years design for their own over-inflated egos and don't care a jot about what the people of this nation really want to live, work and play in. We want architecture like Poundbury that reflects our national identity not hideous glass and steel boxes that look like the have been imposed by an alien empire and look ugly from Day 1!

Robin
A real mixture. Very many parts of the Poundbury development are excellent, particularly close up within the 'traffic-unfriendly' blocks. I know many residents are very pleased with their homes, even if they did often attract a price premium. The light industrial units scattered around are also, I believe, well regarded. BUT there are many "landmark buildings" which do interfere with the views from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty surrounding, particularly from Maiden Castle, from where Dorchester + Poundbury now seems to stretch across a wide range. The Fire Station and adjacent monstrous office building are especially dismaying. The highest tower at Queen Mother Square is still to come (at the highest point, naturally). In 50 years time, when the development is softened by maturing trees, I expect we will be quite pleased - it is certainly better than many 20th century housing estates.

David
This is not a village. This is high density building plot between Dorchester Town and the bypass,which we were told will not happen...thank you Charles.Village houses have land and gardens where residents produce their own produce. This is a nice looking, expensive housing estate on the edge of another expanding town and as you say not a great many of locals are buying there.

Ben
I am a student studying real estate and planning and would like to clear something up. Sustainability is not just about bolt-ons such as greater insulation, filtration ponds and solar panels. It is a much wider concept covering not only environmental concerns but also social and even economic issues! Poundbury is seen as a sustainable village partly due to its ability to reduce car usage, have a well-balanced community and have a reasonable number of shops and amenities. Simply bolting on sustainability accessories such as solar panels to, for example, a commuter town does not make it sustainable.

Doug
The relatively small "phase 1" was harmless enough; obviously not genuine but nevertheless better-looking than a modern housing estate. The huge, later phases (and there's a lot more still to come) are very different from the original concept, and pretty gross. My top two objections are: the developers destroyed the original, uninterrupted, tree-lined western approach to Dorchester along the Roman Road; and they've now breached the sight-lines over Dorchester's surrounding hills so the stark commercial development is now visible for miles around from the surrounding Dorset countryside.

Lee
I am just wondering if any of the negative comments have been made by anyone under the age of 50? I am 24 and have lived in Dorchester my whole life, and I now live in 'new' Poundbury and I love everything about it. Once the buildings have aged like 'old' Poundbury I think it will look fantastic. Excellent build quality, no parking problems, no crime and safe to walk the streets. This is what every town in the country is trying to achieve! Also has anyone ever thought about the positive things Poundbury brings? Comments on here that people come from CANADA just to see it!!! That's great news for tourism industry.

harry stonhill
Poundbrys great and go mister wheal !!! ooop

E Stephens
Looked around Poundbury while on holiday in Dorset and thought what a nice place it would be to live.Wondered why so many cars parked on the roads though.

Louise Goddard
Yes, we should congratulate the designers on creating a picturesque model village! I love it.

David Geary
Poundbury - a village? It is getting bigger than its county town siamese twin. It is a dreadful eyesore that blocks out the country side from miles around.

Geoffrey Barnes
As an ex-pat now living in Canada I was very impressed with Poundbury when we visited in 2002. But I always thought Poundbury was the land over the railway tunnel.

Pete
I meet a lot of people who live in Poundbury through my work. At a rough guess 70% of people I talk to wish they had never moved there, too many regulations of what you can and cannot do seems to be the main reasons.

phil
What is eco about this development? Are there filtration ponds for the sewage? Is all the insulation used made of nateral fibre etc. Why are there not solar panels on every building? Prince Charles for years banged on about redeveloping brown sites to protect the green sites.Before the dreaded dutch elm disease the drive through the now poundbury estate on the old A35 with the amazing avenue of Elm trees was the most amazing approach to any town, shame it was not replanted and the new village built where it belongs on an old industrial estate. He did have a great opportunity to really produce a ground breaking eco way of living here, but alas failed.

megabog
I'm sorry but from the A35 it looks an eyesore and even closer up it doesn't improve. A nice idea, but Prince Charles should have stopped development five years ago while it was still a small community. As it is, it's turning into an ugly urban sprawl

John
Walt Disney"Fantasia" Mark II

Sharon Gustafsson
I would rather live in Poundbury than the 1970's box I have, the place look lovely and and well cared for. All housing estates look the same now, no matter where in the country they are. I hope builders look at Poundbury and see it as the future, but I think they are mostly bothered by profits than beautiful buildings.

Bryn
In my humble opinon Poundabury does not blend in and is an oddity, but I admire the concept. It would of been braver to do a zero-carbon impact development. Poundbury feels posh and unwelcoming to the rest of the community and acts as a spring board for second-homers. Which is the last thing the area needs.Affordable eco-housing for local young people would of been better. Maybe next time? :)

Rebecca
I grew up in Dorchester and have lived with my family on Poundbury for a year. We love it. There are so many opportunities for people of all ages to have an active social life without having to travel far, and to even feel safe on the streets at night. Every street is different. Perhaps in some areas the architects have tried too hard, but I feel those parts are few and far between. I am sorry that some people believe Poundbury has marred the beauty of Maiden Castle. The dog poo has always prevented my enjoyment of the ruins long before Poundbury was created.

W
The whole thing is a joke, back in the days Hardyes students used to go there to smoke during break and lunch and laugh at all the rich people who moved in for a taste of "country living", needless to say, local youth, law-breaking or otherwise, aren't exactly welcome there.

Geoffrey Barnes
Definitely. We visited Poundbury (from Canada) and thought it charming. Wish we had something like it over here. Old outside, modern within.

mARIANNE
VERY GOOD, WISH WE HAD THIS IN FLORIDA. BEAUTIFUL!! PLAN TO VIST SOON.

Vicki
I've lived on Poundbury for 12 years. I too cannot understand why we attract so many negative comments. This is simply another estate like all the others that are springing up around towns all over the country, but somewhat better designed. Yes, urban development causes problems for small towns faced with sudden demands, but that's reality. England needs homes. Yes, backs are put up by the rather snobbish attitude of a few pompous residents and perhaps sometimes by the Duchy's pretentiousness (sorry, but the "hard urban edge" that is meant to resemble Carcassonne doesn't look anything like that place to me, and anyway, Carcassonne really is a modern Disney reconstruction). It seems to be a very ordinary mix of people here, just like anywhere else. The critics and our few self-inflated residents need to lighten up and enjoy the place for what it is: for me, a little like living in a future king’s mad folly – intriguing and impossible to leave until I know how his fairy tale will end.

Derek Bascombe
The Poundbury development is nothing more than a cynical money making scheme for Prince Charles' Duchy of Cornwall. This so-called eco-friendly village is merely an expansion of Dorchester and has nothing in common with any village I know of.Now I read that Poundbury is the inspiration for a new eco-friendly village to built at Croes Atti in Flintshire. A comment by Mr Mat Anwyl a director of Croes Atti project almost caused me to split my sides laughing. He is quoted as saying "We were impressed by the way that Poundbury integrates into the landscape......" What!Is he blind or just stupid?The Poundbury development has intruded into the landscape and can be seen sticking out like a sore thumb when approaching Dorchester from any direction. I doubt that anyone other tham HRH Prince Charles would have obtained planning permission for such a prpoject.Housing is much needed but to describe Poundbury as a visionary project is simply untrue.

David
We live on the old poundbury and are very disappointed with the way the whole thing has been forced on the residents of Dorchester. As for it being sustainable it is not. There are 2 buildings that have a small go at being sustainable with some insulation and solar hot water. There was a great opportunity to do some thing special but what we got was some ones idea of an English village. The mixed development that is raved about has had to be amended because the incomers who have moved in complained about traffic so that in the end extra roads were built to appease the complainers. As for community sprit and a feeling of belonging take down the bollards that block roads into the rest of Dorchester and we might feel that it belongs and is not just a carbuncle on the side of Dorchester.

Alan B
All I can now see from my window at Charlton Down is the ever growing 'City of Poundbury' that has completely obliterated the view of Maiden Castle. Will it ever stop growing ? And why does everything have to be multi-storey with fake towers and spires obliterating the skyline. Just look at that huge monstrosity that looms up at you as you come up the bypass approaching the Monkey's Jump roundabout ! The development is like Toytown and is truly awful. I hope Charlie boy is proud of all the green fields that he has obliterated for ever.

Alan
I live on the old Poundbury not the new one (or Middle Farm as like to call it) and I am fed up with the ever higher skyline of the development. Nothing much gets built under 3 stories, everything seems to have a tower and I find some of the roads positively dangerous when cycling through the area. The developers have denied it was just going to be a village, but that was how it was sold to the locals. now it is huge, with a "statement building" on every corner.

dave r
when is going to stop it just seems to get bigger and bigger it will be a town in its self soon out growing the county town of dorchester

Kate
I am a Poundbury resident and really enjoy living there. I grew up in Dorchester and moved back here from London about 2 years ago. Poundbury has much better properties and doesn't suffer with the parking problems that the rest of the area has. It is a very social place with a great community. I find it hard to see how people who have never lived here can possibly comment on it. I can't believe someone living on the Charlton Down housing estate would have the nerve to comment on the ugliness of Poundbury.

Dorothy
Ive visited Dorchester for over 50 years living as I do close by and I thought the first part of Pundbury was a sympathetic attempt at blending newbuilds into the countryside. Now though I think greed has taken over and the countryside has become 'grabbing fields' the more the merrier with little thought to the irreplacable countryside and its inhabitants. When is someone going to say enough is enough and leave the green sites alone.

Teresa Foster
I first became aware of Poundbury when I visited Maiden Castle with my husband last year. I remember visiting the site when I was a child and wanted my husband to see it. I was appalled at the monstrosity which appeared to have been appended with little thought to old Dorchester. The view from Maiden Castle is now completely ruined and the atmosphere the site used to have has been destroyed. Everywhere we travel now we see intrusive, vulgar new build homes where once the beautiful British countryside delighted us. Poundbury is offensive to the eye and I will not be visiting Maiden Castle again for some time because it is just too depressing.

John R. Davies
As a local person I cannot but wonder what part of Dorchester or even Dorset the "Traditional" architecture has been derived from-the place appears to be a mixture of Bath, Milan and the east end of London before it was demollished. Even the name has been stolen from the existing part of Dorchester which was, and still is called, Poundbury. The place looks like a deserted film set for Pride and Prejudice set in Austria crossed with a Wimpey social housing construction site.

Cleo
It reminds me of the Trueman Show. I don't quite understand why we have to model new housing estates on old architecture, which happened 200 years ago. There are plenty of excellent original examples of this architecture already. Yes, it is a pastiche. Think it would be far more interesting and exciting to build new developments with good modern design.Not Wimpy designs, but innovative and beautiful designs - get artists to collaborate with with architects on the concepts. Lets also see much more environmentally friendlier building schemes. Not just the odd token 'friendly non carbon footprint' house within the scheme.We should be expanding our knowledge and designs of our buildings not just repeating. Lets get excited. Lets get daring.Lets get our environments to be really positive places to be in.Lets reflect the now, not the past.

Miss Tanner
I think the whole estate looks like a model dolls house, apprently you cant even hang out your washing bacause of what it looks like to people driving past!!

Slade
It's good to live in but a village it ain't not even a new urban one. It appears that maximisation of land usage and profit has got the better of the supposed original intent.

Vernon
Poundbury is a good place to live and people who here have succeeded in making it work as a community, a part of Dorchester.

unknown
poundbury is like some sort of spooky surburban film set of a horror movie. The architecture looks fake and pretencious.You never see people walking about there. Or the people you do see are pre teen chavs out for a night of boozing and scaring old ladies.I hate it, I hate what they've done with it.

Emma
I love the "older" bit of Poundbury with its Market Square. I am not as keen on some of the new bits, But I love the Engine Room and the Cresent. I do think the need to sort out peoples cars as the tend to be left everywhere!

Steve
I think Poundbury is a splendid town. A perfect place for me to buy my next weekend house for my escape from the city.

Andy
I live in Poundbury and its the best move i ever did! Its fantastic.

Bob
Poundbury should have been built to spoil the area outside the gates to Prince Charles house NOT spoil Dorset

Steven
Having read lots about Seaside, Florida and Disney's Celebraton the idea of having a New Urbanism village in England just does not fit, with our culture here in Uk. I think it has to stop soon as the village is growing and growing. What is it they are trying to achieve? Village life or town greed, as Neil says. If its town greed, the village will be back at square one, back to suburban sprawl, bringing the car back again..

Neil
I agree with Steve Haylor in a way. The first phase built quaint houses, yet the new builds are becoming blocks of three storey apartments; not exactly what you would see in your average quaint dorset village. They need to downsize again and think about what they are trying to achieve; village life or town greed.

John
What a hideous site to approach Dorchester from the west. Is that truly supposed to be a hospital? Well it makes me feel sick looking at how it has dominated our beautiful Dorset country side. Perhaps there should be something similar built on the spare land around Highgrove to see how he likes in, but then I guess not in my back yard comes into play. An awful mess to try and visit and a hideous eyesore that doesn’t seem to stop growing in a landscape that is too precious to destroy! Amazing what you can get away with when you have the right name!

Pete Gerrard
In answer to Bob Shaves comment about his wife living on the adjacent council estate. I lived on that estate for all off my yuth and I was brought up on the farm that has been ruined by an idiot, and I still say that it is an ugly eyesore and blot on the landscape.

Francis Biley
I thought I'd stumbled into a new Disneyworld

Bob Shave
My wife and I have lived in Poundbury for six years and we think the layout and house designs are great. There is a real community feel here, people are quick to make friends and welcome incomers. Nearly all negative comments on Poundbury seem to come from people who do not live here, I wonder where their ideal village/houses are. As for jibes about "incomers" my wife spent her youth living in the Council Estate which adjoins Poundbury so, in a sense, she has come home.

Pete Gerrard
For the original idea for a model village, the whole estate is nothing but an ugly eyesore and blot on the landscape. Since when has anyone seem 3 story buildings in a village. Richard is correct in stating that the fences and bollards is a boundary to separate the estate from PROPER Poundbury and Dorchester.

Con Giorgi
Ive been in Poundbury for 2 years. I have two young children and I think its a great place for them to grow up - there are numerous parks, the roads are designed for pedestrians (if that makes sense), there is a broad mix of housing and it has a real community feel. It does seem to polarise opinion though but I know of many families who are on their 2nd or 3rd home in the development so they planners must be doing something right.

Gavin
Charles seems to think you can add a tower or an archway to any mediocre building and it will automatically make it a good building - he's wrong. Poundbury is a soulless, ludicrous eyesore. I'd demolish all of it tomorrow if I could.

Sam
What I like about Poundbury is that all the buildings are different - on most new housing developments all the houses are identical, at least the developers have had to use a bit of imagination here.

Alan Bradshaw
In my opinion, Poundbury is a hideous blot on the landscape which is growing at an alarming rate. When will it end or is the long-term plan to reach Charminster ? Why are the developers allowed to attach towers to everything that serve no purpose other than to clutter up the skyline like the latest hideous steel framed edfice going up at the Monkeys Jump ? The view of Maiden Castle from Charlton Down has now been completely obliterated forever.

Lynn Marsland
Poundbury scares me, when coming down the dual-carriageway all you can see is that hideous hospital, it reminds me of my son's play town and hints of the film 'Stepford Wives'

Steve Haylor
I think the designers need to get out more, the first small phase is of village type, but the rest is just money making and land grabing histeria. Having been born in a nice Dorset village, now being wrecked by incomers I find the term "village" to describe Poundbury most offensive.

Bernie Jones
As I drive my children through Poundbury on the way to school each day we always feel as if we are driving through the deserted set of 'The Prisoner'! There is something vaguely unreal about the place and hardly ever any people to be seen on the streets as we see daily in nearby Bridport and Dorchester. Maybe it will mellow, mature and improve with time but at the moment it seems to be a failed experiment in 90's social engineering. However it would be informative to hear the view of Poundbury residents on the experience of living there....

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