07 February 2007
Posted in THE NEWS - BRIDPORT NEWS & VIEWS
I am writing to illustrate my despair at the current Poundbury development that appears to spreading like a bacterial infection on the western edge of Dorchester. Living in the best place to be, Bridport, I rarely go to Dorchester, and in a confusing way, I find Dorchester both bland and irritating at the same time. In my opinion (which in no way should be taken as fact) the town itself is far from an idyllic market town, not helped by its complete lack of character.
In my understanding, be it correct or otherwise, the Poundbury development was intended to reflect the architecture and community of a traditional West Dorset country village. This, I assume, is the brief that the designers, architects and developers are working by. It is possible that I am not the only person who is struggling with that concept, considering that the Poundbury development is quite possibly the diametric opposite of that brief, in every perceivable way.
I am no designer, nor an architect or a developer, but it doesn't take an expert in this field to reach the conclusion that the surreal, and quite frankly "fake" Poundbury development appears to be taking heavy inspiration from the following:
- Kensington & Chelsea
- Walt Disney
- Regents Park Residencies
- 18th Century Normandy
- Southern European/Spanish
- Rural Germany/Austria
- Far-Reaching corners of the Milky Way
It really does stretch the imagination as to how these inspirations fitted the brief, but I am sure that "3am Decisions" over a 20 year old bottle of your favourite single malt may have persuaded you in this area. Perhaps you watched Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang back to back, and simply couldn't shake them from your mind?
To be blunt, the development is an embarrassment. Simply an embarrassment. If I had never been to West Dorset before, and never seen a classic example of a West Dorset village, and my first experience of one was Poundbury, I would be, from that point onwards, badly informed in extremis!
Allow me to move tentatively to the subject of village culture, the element that I fear Poundbury will severely lack. Most West Dorset villages have solicitors and estate agents "living" in them. Poundbury, on the other hand, is teeming with these people "working" in the village. This is no surprise considering that houses are changing hands quickly, but three (or more) estate agents' offices? Five solicitors’ offices? Along with a host of ambiguous training and business agencies, an Art Gallery, a supermarket or two (disguised as a grocers stores)? Although I haven't dared to venture too far into the citadel, I wouldn't be surprised if you have failed to install a pub! Although perhaps you have opted for a pretend pub, with a pretend landlord, selling pretend beer from a pretend brewery - all in a friendly and sterile non-smoking environment, serving modern Italian cuisine with a low glycemic index, from frozen produce sourced as far from West Dorset as humanly possible.
Obviously you will be aware of the "Ghost town village syndrome" that has affected our area over the last decade. This is where the majority of villages in the area are empty for the majority of the year due to second home buying. I am assuming that that Poundbury may avoid this fate, because it is sure to be full of commuters that get up at 5am to catch the train to London and return back to their bored and exhausted partners just in time for Newsnight. Poundbury has created a new syndrome "Commuter Theme Park Syndrome", and a Commuter's Theme Park, is exactly what Poundbury is.
To conclude this correspondence, may I whole heartedly persuade you to stop building when you reach Winterbourne Abbas? I fear that any development of Poundbury beyond Winterbourne Abbas may begin to infringe on Bridport's 10 mile protection-zone. There is no official zone, but I fear that civil unrest may result from any breach of this request. In addition, please could you make an allowance within your commendable carbon footprint to visit some of the villages surrounding Bridport, possibly in an effort to rejuvenate your frame of reference for any future developments?