Prince Charles' Poundbury: Charming masterpiece or feudal Disneyland?

Prince Charles' Poundbury: Charming masterpiece or feudal Disneyland?

- in Real Estate

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PASSION: Prince Charles’s Poundbury Royal Pavillion (Image: ChristopherVHadow/BNPS)

A proud Prince Charles has just unveiled the latest architectural addition to his dream town, Poundbury, in Dorset, a grandly named apartment block called Royal Pavilion. Standing elegantly in Queen Mother Square, the pavilion has 16 apartments and four penthouses with prices ranging from £570,000 to £2.5million. Started in 1993 Poundbury is due to be finished in 2025 when it will have a population of 5,000 and 2,500 homes. But even when the final brick is laid, controversy will rage over whether it’s a grand folly or a thriving success.

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Piers Taylor (Image: BBC/Endemol Shine UK)


Poundbury is too controlling, too top down, too enthralled with a building style. It is a triumph of personal style over any kind of substance.

It hasn’t been a great success. It’s another overpriced dormitory town.

It’s not thriving, bustling or full of life. There isn’t the diversity of work there to create a thriving economy.

It looks back to building times of 300 years ago instead of looking forward and developing bustling new, thriving towns for the modern times.

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Sarah Beeny (Image: Mike Marsland/WireImage)


People love to bash Poundbury. They say it is shocking, appalling, dreadful, plastic, and a pantomime of nonsense but I would disagree with them.

You have to ask yourself the question: would you like to live in those houses or ones on a modern estate. I think most people would rather live there than other modern estates. I think it needs bedding in.

The trees need to grow and over time it will age and mellow. It is a shame it now costs so much money to live there.

It is all very well intellectualising about architectural concepts and theories but you have to consider what people want and I think it would be a really nice place to live.

We just moved from London to a farm in the country as we didn’t want to live in a town. But if we wanted to live in a town I would happily live there.

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Chris Ship (Image: Guy Levy/ITV)


You could mock the whole project as a personal plaything of the prince, where the pub named after his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, sits in the square named after his beloved grandmother, the Queen Mother.

A place where people pop in and out of the local Waitrose or the greengrocers, where there isn’t a plastic bag to be had.

And neither is it every architect’s dream, where houses are not pushing the boundaries of innovation but are built in a style reflecting a period from more than 200 years ago.

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First glimpse inside the new luxury apartments in Poundbury (Image: ChristopherVHadow/BNPS)

But people vote with their feet. And if no one liked it here, they wouldn’t be living here and nor would their houses be 20 per cent more valuable than those of a similar size in the surrounding area.

So yes, it’s been mocked many times. But you might say, the residents are having the last laugh.

If I had to choose to live in a new town or new estate anywhere in the country, I’d pick this one

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Virginia Blackburn (Image: STEVE REIGATE)


“An embarrassing anachronism as the new century dawns,” thundered the critic Hugh Aldersley-Williams at the turn of the last millennium, but is it really that bad?

A bit pastiche, perhaps, a bit faux-Georgian and a bit too prone to areas named after Prince Charles’s most loved members of the Royal Family (Queen Mother Square, Duchess of Cornwall Inn).

But compare it to the monstrous housing estates that blight so many inner cities, problems compounded by the fact that some bright spark decided it would be a great idea to knock down neighbourhood terraces and build concrete bunkers instead and Poundbury really looks quite attractive.

It’s certainly far too genteel for moped muggers and the rest of the ugliness of modern life.

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the Prince Charles with resident Les Elford this week (Image: Ben Birchall/PA Wire)

The worst thing you could imagine happening in Poundbury would be someone burning the scones.

Yes it’s a rich man’s fantasy of a Britain that probably never was, yes there’s a touch of the Disney about it.

But there’s a certain elegance to it for all that – no tower blocks and I’m guessing a very low tolerance of graffiti and pound shops. It doesn’t appear to house Britain’s identikit high streets. And you might bump into royalty.

You could do a lot worse. But would I actually live there? No.

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Adam Helliker (Image: Mark Kehoe)


Even after all these years Prince Charles’s dream town divides opinion and enrages more modern minded architects.

However, whether he admits it or not Charles has created a place which is not a million miles from the Royal estates, a slightly unreal world where he and Camilla might feel at home.

There’s no litter, the grass is beautifully cut and while the housing is described as mixed there certainly isn’t any property you could describe as cheap.

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Cottages in Poundbury (Image: Chris Ison/PA Archive/PA Images)

In fact, the new apartments costing close to £1million will be far too much for most people to pay if they have ordinary jobs.

Prince Charles’s pet project has matured into a thriving community with more than 3,000 people and it is still expanding.

However, it does still look and feel a little soulless, just too perfect, prim and proper for my taste. In another 20 years’ time some of his critics may say it was a visionary project which has stood the test of time, but I will need a lot more persuading because it will almost certainly lack the essential ingredient, character.

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Anthea Turner (Image: Mike Marsland/WireImage)


I’ve read about Poundbury.

It sounds absolutely idyllic.

Why would you want to live anywhere else? It’s built on Duchy of Cornwall land so Prince Charles can have anything he wants.

I can only imagine it will be perfect.

Poundbury has created hundreds of jobs and I am sure there’ll be a good Post Office, doctor’s surgery, dentist and everything else needed.

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