Poundbury – Creating new sustainable towns – Podcast

 In Blog, Podcast
poundbury masterplan

In this ‘Building Sustainability’ podcast episode we talk to architect, Noel Isherwood. The discussion is largely around Poundbury, which is the expansion of Dorchester. It was designed for humans and community, not cars.

We talk about some of the ideas which made Poundbury ground breaking such as –

  • Having no speed restriction signs for car users, relying on physical changes in the landscape and subconscious visual clues to slow drivers down.
  • What worked and things that didn’t.
  • How it has been received by others, both the initial reaction and how it informed the government’s planning guidance.

Taken from the Dutchy of Cornwall website about Poundbury

When work began in 1993, the basic idea was simple; Poundbury would be a high-density urban quarter of Dorchester which gives priority to people, rather than cars, and where commercial buildings are mixed with residential areas, shops and leisure facilities to create a walkable community.This approach aims to challenge some of the planning assumptions of the latter part of the 20th century and the past decade. As Poundbury has developed, it has demonstrated that there is a genuine alternative to the way in which we build new communities in the UK.

“Poundbury is currently home to approximately 3,000 people in a mix of private and affordable housing. The community also provides employment for over 2,000 people and is home to 180 businesses.”

Poundbury has also proved increasingly influential among industry professionals, attracting international interest and generating many organised tours every year from architects, town planners, academics and house builders. Its success has been recognised far beyond Dorset and many of the founding principles of Poundbury have now been incorporated into the British Government’s Planning Guidance Note PPG3.

Click here for more information on Poundbury (includes images of the architecture and planning details)

Noel’s Work

Many thanks to Noel for taking the time to speak with us, you can see Noel’s work on his website here.

More information on the project with the Prince’s Foundation can be found here.

Prince’s Foundation

jeffrey hart on the princes foundation

The Prince’s Foundation gets a few mentions in this month’s podcast. Hartwyn Lead instructor, Jeffrey, is a graduate of their ‘Building Craft Program’.

He spent 8 months developing his craft and working with some of the UK’s leading eco builders. It was a truly transformative program that we fully support.

Listen to the rest of the Building Sustainability podcasts

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  • T. G

    (quick note to start – I grew up in Dorchester and recently went back to see the estate) I’m just getting to the end of the podcast. A lot of thoughts, while I can’t argue with his talking about the process of building sustainable houses (something on which the podcast is focusing) the idea that the estate has been “wholly successful” I feel is more representative of the view that community can be manufactured. The facts that he mentions “first pub to be built in a housing estate… We put in a village hall” indicates far more the vision of pastoral English life that HRH espouses about rather than the fact that they were adding to a town which already has an infrastructure – maybe no other estates built pubs because they were closer to the town that already existed. As for businesses, Dorset Cereals closed down after being bought out and the building hasn’t been taken up. On my last wander through there were plenty of shops that had opened and gone – obviously the developers have no control over the footfall of the current generation of shoppers but it reinforces the fact that Noel seems to be merely citing the same old slogans and stats that he did when he was originally having to sell the estate to interested parties. When I last visited I was amazed at the lack of green space in the estate proper, the pedestrianised areas were just big squares of gravel and tarmac, each building having no garden in front and and small, high walled area behind. The walls also create plenty of dark recesses, something which I have heard the police have been having problems addressing… Does going back to a medieval town plan bring back such cut throughs and small lanes? One of the only buildings with a green space outside is the fenced off Duchy office, quite a statement for a sustainable community. I haven’t touched upon my issues with the actual design of the place because my taste in architecture obviously differs but you would have thought that when they built “Castle View” retirement home (and there are quite a few care homes and suchlike in the estate) which had undisturbed views over the fields to Maiden Castle that they wouldn’t have then succeeded in putting a taller building in between it and the actual castle it was meant to view! I am a bit dissatisfied that you didn’t press him harder but I understand that that is not the aim of the podcast (the link between rural crafts and those that can afford them is a completely different topic). No town is perfect and a lot of hard work has to happen by those who live there to create a community. I applaud the ideas that were brought to the fore in the development but I am unconvinced by the results.

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