As his Poundbury dream implodes, it never rains but it pours for Prince Charles

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The Independent Online

All appeared well yesterday in the village of Poundbury as the Prince of Wales led foreign dignitaries on a tour of his pet urban planning project. But 13 years after the Prince laid its foundation stones, heralding a new age in community living and challenging British architects to follow its neo-classical designs, the west Dorset village faces threats from yob culture, Nimbyism and even rebellion in the ranks of its residents.

The greatest challenge is posed by environmental planning. Last month villagers presented the council with a petition signed by 500 residents objecting to plans to resite a refuse tip for recycling household waste.

Local people, 700 of whom gathered in the village hall this month to voice their protests, have formed a group called Scrap (Stop Council Rubbish At Poundbury). They complain that the tip would be smelly and unsightly for such a prestigious estate.

The campaign is not only embarrassing for the Prince, who only recently restated his environmental and recycling credentials, but also plays into the hands of Dorchester residents who claim their upmarket neighbours are a drain on the town's resources and must start pulling their weight.

In recent months Poundbury has also attracted yob elements from nearby council estates who have daubed obscene graffiti on the village's white-rendered walls. There have been further reports of houses being targeted with eggs and tomatoes, while the village square has become a gathering place for gangs of moped-riding youths.

But the Prince remains committed to his dream and yesterday he was busy showing off his architectural achievement during a royal tour of the village on his 58th birthday. Among the guests were Prince Albert of Monaco and visitors from China and New Orleans.

Council representatives and Dorset police are meeting youth groups to find alternative entertainment for delinquent teenagers, some of whom are home-bred in Poundbury. Plans are afoot for football pitches, a "ball wall" and a youth hut, all paid for by the Prince of Wales's cash cow, the Duchy of Cornwall.

The Prince has championed Poundbury as a template for a new British village, creating a yesteryear living space based on traditional designs.

But now part of the central ethos of the experiment is being challenged by residents who want to know why they aren't allowed road markings or street signs, and have to paint their houses one colour.

One resident wrote in the village newsletter: "Do the interiors of our (mock) Victorian cottages and Georgian houses really have to reflect the exterior. Can we really have only one colour as long as its magnolia with our coved and Artex ceilings? Do our homes have to be broken up into a series of small interior spaces because that is how our ancestors lived?"

A recent survey of opinion among Poundbury residents uncovered further resentment. It found that one out of four local people wanted a change in the bylaws so that brown signs could be erected to direct visitors to the village amenities.

The renaming of parts of the village was also strongly supported, with one proposal to call Phase2E of the development Camillatown, although there were was no support for Charlesville.

But for the moment residents' attentions are firmly focused on the council's plans for the tip.

"Yes, it is a case of not in my backyard, but no one would want it their backyard," Fran Leaper, the chairman of the Poundbury Residents Association, said. "A similar plan in another part of Dorchester has already been turned down because it was too close to residential buildings. The same is true with this proposal. It's simply in the wrong place, 200 yards from a children's nursery and right in the path of the prevailing wind."

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