First claims staked on Prince's vision

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The Independent Online
BUSINESS was brisk when the first houses on the development that is the Prince of Wales's vision of the future were put up for sale at the weekend.

Four houses priced at between pounds 70,000 and pounds 150,000 and still to be built were sold within an hour of the start of open day at Poundbury, the Prince's Duchy of Cornwall development, near Dorchester.

A retired naval officer, Commander Joe Warren, 68, and his wife Rosemary, 66, were the first buyers. They took a three-bedroom detached house in traditional Dorset cottage design faced with traditional honey-coloured Dorset stone.

Commander Warren waved an arm towards the south where at the moment there are only green fields, and said: 'The market square will be over there somewhere, so the shops will be very near when the development is completed.' Another reason for buying was the energy efficiency of the houses. 'When VAT goes on fuel that will make a big difference,' he said.

The Warrens said they had been attracted to Poundbury by the location and the builder's reputation not because of Prince Charles's involvement, although they do agree with his ideas about creating a proper community.

A second buyer, Margaret Andrews, 62, said she would have bought a house there no matter who owned the land 'because it's built in the style that I like and it's in the right location'.

The style that she spoke of - honey-coloured rendering, tall reassuring chimneys and well-proportioned white sash windows - are the immediately striking features of a block of Georgian-style flats and four terraced cottages which have almost been completed for the Guinness Trust Housing Association. The development will eventually cover 400 acres.