RESIDENTS in the town King Charles built say he is a “hands-on” visitor who always has time for locals – but the area divides opinion.
Poundbury in Dorset is a personal project of the new king, who worked with architect Leon Krier to create the experimental town from scratch on Duchy of Cornwall land in the 1990s.
Due for completion in 2025 – over thirty years since plans were laid out – Poundbury has long divided opinion, with some architects comparing it to a pound shop Disneyland dominated by the elderly.
But locals said they love the area – and can’t wait to celebrate King Charles’s coronation.
The town council is lighting a beacon in nearby Salisbury Fields, and has also partnered up with the local Lions Club for a free coronation-themed event for families in the area.
With bunting already hanging from many homes, the largely pedestrianised town is set to be taken over by huge street parties in the many courtyards which Charles incorporated into its design.
There will also be a motorcycle show on Bank Holiday Monday for those who want to celebrate the coronation on two wheels.
Shopkeeper Sahil Dalvi, 34, said: “I’ve met King Charles on a few occasions because he drops in a couple of times a year to keep an eye on how things are going.
“He is always happy to chat and wave because he really believes in what he is doing in Poundbury.
“The shop is already getting ready to celebrate his coronation with bunting and flags and I will be wearing my own golden crown on the day of the Coronation.
“The shop will be shut but we are planning to have a street party to mark the occasion.
“We did it for the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and this gives us another chance to meet up and celebrate.
“It’s going to be a very special day for all of us in Poundbury. They say it’s a bit of Marmite town which you either absolutely love or loathe but I for one wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
I will be wearing my own golden crown on the day of the Coronation
Florist Deborah Winthorpe and her daughter Amelia have run Poundbury Florists for the past 18 months.
Deborah said: “The reason we really wanted to take over the florist was because we believed in what Prince Charles was trying to do with Poundbury.
“We’ve been lucky enough to supply flowers to many of the occasions when he visited and we are delighted to be able to do so.
“This is first and foremost a community and that something which really appealed to us as a business.
“You really do get the feeling that people matter in Poundbury and in turn they take living in the area seriously.”
We’ve already started planning what we will be offering – so far it’s Coronation Quiche and a special Coronation sausage
Butcher Ben Black, 42, said: “Prince Charles is passionate not only about the development but also about local produce.
“He came to open the new greengrocery extension to the business and was keen to hear about how we were faring post-Covid.
“It’s clear that he is still very much hands-on when it comes to Poundbury but we’ll have to see what happens once he becomes monarch.
“Whether Prince William as the new Duke of Cornwall will continue to carry on his father’s legacy only time will tell – but I suspect he will.
“William has been here on a few occasions and he’s been as interested in the development as his father, but because it was Charles’s vision the King will always have a very real interest in what goes on here.
“To mark the Coronation of King Charles we’ve already started planning what we will be offering – so far it’s Coronation Quiche and a special Coronation sausage.
“So, we will definitely be entering into the spirit of the event.”
The Poundbury development was first raised in 1989 when West Dorset District Council approached the Duke of Cornwall about extending Dorchester westwards on to his land.
Charles would always come in for a chat, gossips and it was all unscheduled
Sarah Soward, who runs a quilting shop, said: “He used to come in pretty regularly. He would always come in for a chat, gossips and it was all unscheduled.
“I think he did it just to have some peace and quiet. He bought a quilt and cushion from here so we will really miss seeing him.”
Sarah described him as a “normal and such a lovely person” and believed His Majesty is unlikely to return to his model town.
She added: “He did say that one of the last visits to the shop that his life would change if he became King.
“I am sure he won’t be around but we will see if Prince William will visit us.”
With exception of Waitrose and the Hall & Woodhouse pub Duchess of Cornwall, there are no major food chains, national businesses or high street names in Poundbury.
Restaurant owner Giles Henschel said: “I don’t think it is a toy town or model town, it’s a great experiment which by and large has worked.
“It’s quite polarising and if you don’t like it, it’s fine.
“I don’t think there’s valid criticisms but for a newly-built environment full of things to do, it’s been done exceptionally well.”