Poundbury in Dorset could be used to shape future Norfolk towns

Richard Bacon leads a visit of his How Should Norfolk Grow intiative to Poundbury, in Dorset.

Richard Bacon leads a visit of his How Should Norfolk Grow intiative to Poundbury, in Dorset. - Credit: Archant

With little in the way of road markings and factories nestled comfortably between homes and shops, Dorset's Poundbury is known for shaking off traditional planning rules.

Richard Bacon leads a visit of his How Should Norfolk Grow intiative to Poundbury, in Dorset.

Richard Bacon leads a visit of his How Should Norfolk Grow intiative to Poundbury, in Dorset. - Credit: Archant

An urban extension to market town Dorchester, it is built on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and was designed following the Prince of Wales' desire for less urban sprawl and more self-contained settlements - complete with schools, shops and businesses - on the fringes of existing areas.

Work started 23 years ago and, with a completion date of 2025, the high-density village today contains 1,800 homes, 2,000 jobs - more than one per household - and 180 businesses.

On Monday, South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon led a fact-finding trip as part of his How Should Norfolk Grow? initiative, which debates how the county should cope with major future changes to its blueprint.

Among the contingent was Kevin Worsley, district and parish councillor for Long Stratton.

Richard Bacon leads a visit of his How Should Norfolk Grow intiative to Poundbury, in Dorset.

Richard Bacon leads a visit of his How Should Norfolk Grow intiative to Poundbury, in Dorset. - Credit: Archant


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While there are as yet no concrete plans to create a similar community in Norfolk, the village has been repeatedly used as an example of somewhere which could benefit from the overarching approach.

With at least 1,800 new homes on the way, funding the long-sought bypass, it is on the brink of transformation.

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'We hear the talk about 1,800 new houses, but the first thing we needed to do was actually see what 1,800 homes looks like, so it was important to go and see Poundbury,' Mr Worsley said.

'Our long-term goal is to make sure that Long Stratton is the best place to live, work and play anywhere in the UK.'

Richard Bacon leads a visit of his How Should Norfolk Grow intiative to Poundbury, in Dorset.

Richard Bacon leads a visit of his How Should Norfolk Grow intiative to Poundbury, in Dorset. - Credit: Archant

He said there were many parts of the development he would like to see integrated into Long Stratton, including a focal point such as the Queen Mother Square at Poundbury's centre.

'The trouble is we have been divided physically by the A140 and there is no one focal point. It makes the community fractured to a certain degree - not necessarily in a bad way, but just that we struggle to have community cohesion.'

Mr Worsley, who is chairman of the village's emerging neighbourhood plan steering group, said he would welcome the infrastructure that would come with a Poundbury-style masterplan, but stressed that work would be needed to ensure both the new and existing areas of the village were merged.

Meanwhile, Mr Bacon said he believed there were three key lessons from Poundbury that should be applied to future development of towns and villages across Norfolk more widely.

'The first one is that there was an extraordinary amount of planning and thought put into Poundbury and, in many ways, a rejection of fundamental values,' he said, 'which is something we need to prioritise - for too long in our cities this has not happened.

'The second point is really about beauty. If the central criterion by which was brought forward new housing was beauty, we would not have a housing crisis.

'A large amount of people are almost automatically opposed when they hear about new development in the area - but at the same time are worried because their children and grandchildren can't find homes.'

He said it was in part because many believe new developments are 'not beautiful' and do not 'enhance the natural environment'.

He lastly focused on the importance of securing local employment and said: 'There are now more than 1,500 houses and 2,000 very varied jobs in Poundbury, created by the settlement itself.

'People often talk about whether an area is sustainable, but if you create the right conditions an area will flourish.'

Saul Humphrey, chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership's Building Growth and director of construction firm RG Carter, also went on the trip and said: 'I admire the fact that Poundbury is a place that combines enhanced, but traditional, architectural design and charming, high-density development. It has helped to balance viable returns with affordable homes in a very desirable and sustainable manner.'

Tom FitzPatrick, leader of North Norfolk District Council, added: 'It was very interesting to visit and see the way in which resident and industrial use can all work together. I was surprised by the density of the development but it proves that high density doesn't mean poor design – very much the opposite.'

• What do you think of the plans? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk

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