Poundbury residents admit Prince Charles’ designer town is ‘soulless’

Residents of Prince Charles‘ ‘Utopian’ village in Dorset have claimed living their is ‘soulless’ and ‘a lot like Marmite’.

Speaking on ITV’s Prince Charles: Inside The Duchy Of Cornwall, several residents also bemoaned the many regulations that must be followed when living in the model idyll.

Poundbury, in Dorset, which mixes private and affordable housing side-by-side, is owned by Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall estate, which covers more than 130,000 acres across 23 counties.

The royal used Duchy farmland to start building the project in 1993 to demonstrate his own vision of Britain, where he aimed to give everyone a job and have a walkable community – giving priority to people rather than to cars. 

But for fear of his picturesque village being ruined, homeowners must get Charles’ permission if they want to change the colour of their front door or even give their house a name. 

Poundbury homeowners have criticised Prince Charles' 'Utopian' village as 'soulless' and 'a lot like Marmite' in a behind-the-scenes documentary exploring the Duchy of Cornwall estate. Pictured: The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall walk through Poundbury in 2016

Poundbury homeowners have criticised Prince Charles' 'Utopian' village as 'soulless' and 'a lot like Marmite' in a behind-the-scenes documentary exploring the Duchy of Cornwall estate. Pictured: The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall walk through Poundbury in 2016

Poundbury homeowners have criticised Prince Charles’ ‘Utopian’ village as ‘soulless’ and ‘a lot like Marmite’ in a behind-the-scenes documentary exploring the Duchy of Cornwall estate. Pictured: The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall walk through Poundbury in 2016

And any extension not only requires normal planning permission from the local council but Duchy approval too.

In the two-part programme, which airs tonight at 9pm, one resident confessed: ‘It’s a bit sort of a Marmite place, where you either love it or hate it.’

Another said: ‘I don’t think it has soul. It’s unlike anywhere else I’ve been in Dorset,’ while their friend told the camera: ‘There’s a lot of rules and regulations. Like for instance, some people can’t even have satellite dishes.’

But it wasn’t all criticism for the project, which first began construction in 1993 and is set to be completed in 2026. 

In the programme, Prince Charles: Inside The Duchy Of Cornwall, the royal (pictured in the documentary) expressed his hopes to still be alive to witness the completion of the project

In the programme, Prince Charles: Inside The Duchy Of Cornwall, the royal (pictured in the documentary) expressed his hopes to still be alive to witness the completion of the project

In the programme, Prince Charles: Inside The Duchy Of Cornwall, the royal (pictured in the documentary) expressed his hopes to still be alive to witness the completion of the project

At the beginning of 2019, around 3,800 people were living in homes across Poundbury, above

At the beginning of 2019, around 3,800 people were living in homes across Poundbury, above

At the beginning of 2019, around 3,800 people were living in homes across Poundbury, above

One shop owner compared the village, which reverts back to architecture prior to the end of the 20th century and prides its self on sustainable building, to a ‘film set’.

The Poundbury stipulations 

These are the following rules that residents in Poundbury must follow if they are to live there: 

  • To not paint or decorate the exterior of the property in any different colours without the consent of Prince Charles
  • Not to make any alterations or additions in or to the exterior of the property without planning permission and approval from the duke
  • To not erect any additional fencing or walls around the property
  • Not to remove any trees or shrubs which are planted within the boundary of the home
  • For no signboard advertisement placard, or house name to be placed in the windows of any houses or on the exterior without approval of the prince
  • No caravans or boats should be brought onto the property or placed in the parking spaces

Source: Poundbury Management Company (MANCO) 

‘When you come for the first time it feels like a film set and you can’t really believe anyone lives here,’ she revealed. 

Charles said the idea behind Poundbury was to build a community rather than ‘another housing estate’ but acknowledges it was met with criticism.

‘Everybody was against it, and in the end I was determined to stick to my guns,’ he said. 

‘I got on regardless of the endless criticism… because I’ve always believed in the long-term.

The Princes of Wales, who inspects the area twice a year, added: ‘I wanted to make sure that this time we did it in a more sustainable way.’

Charles expressed his hopes to still be alive to witness the completion of the project and reflect on his efforts. 

With pride in his voice, he explained: ‘I want to be able to potter round on a stick in my dotage saying: “Did I help to do this?”‘ 

At the beginning of 2019, around 3,800 people were living in 1,700 homes across Poundbury, and 35 per cent of housing must be affordable for rental or shared ownership. 

The Duchy estate was established by Edward III to provide a private income for his son and heir to the throne Edward, later known as the Black Prince, and its purpose remains the same today. 

Episode one of Prince Charles: Inside The Duchy Of Cornwall airs at 9pm on ITV on Thursday. 

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