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Poundbury – the gift that keeps giving

There was a time when the architectural world became really incensed about Poundbury – about its backward-looking aesthetic, and its sheer irrelevance to the issues of today. It was Prince Charles’ vision of how small towns ‘should’ be – and a lot of effort was expended on explaining how wrong this was.

Now it seems like an irrelevance. A lot of the housing that is built throughout the country is bad pastiche, some of it is rather good, and really none of that is our primary concern. We do worry about community, which is a concern of Poundbury, but we worry more about the end of bus services, about rural GPs’ futures, about the loss of local shops.

And far far more, we worry about the lack of new housing, about house prices in cities, about affordability and about the disjunction that sees our city centres (London in particular) becoming increasingly over-developed with ‘investment opportunities’ while the poor and those of middling incomes and even the relatively well-off who are rash enough to reproduce are driven out. 

So it seems touching rather than sinister that Prince Charles, who has the dubious distinction of being Britain’s longest serving heir apparent and is still waiting to start his life’s work at an age when many have already retired, is today taking the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to visit Poundbury. He hasn’t had much to do for most of his life (OK, I know royal engagements can be taxing), so how nice that he can show mummy and daddy what he has been doing in a little corner of Dorset.

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