Prince Charles’s Eco Village in Newquay.

Prince Charles first dabbled in property developing back in 1994 when he built Poundbury, his model town in Dorset.   Soon Tregunnel Hill on the outskirts of Newquay in Cornwall will become another Duchy of Cornwall development.  It looks as though the planners there will give the go ahead this month for 170 homes to be built on a 10 acre plot on the southwest edge of the town.  Eventually 1,000 homes will be built there but this is just the first stage of the development.

This model village has been decades in the planning and whilst many of the big volume house builders scaled back on their construction, Prince Charles is stepping up his.  So far Prince Charles has built 1,200 homes on 250 acres of Duchy of Cornwall land and in the next decade he is hoping to build 17,000 more.  This time he hopes to be building all over the country.  An important property fact is that Prince Charles built more homes in 2009 than the volume builder Persimmon Homes. 

The development that he is building in Newquay is being nicknamed “Surfbury”, it will be pedestrian friendly and materials used from local suppliers.  There will be terraced cottages and grander two storey detached houses, these will be made from Trevillet slate.  Everything in the village will need to have the royal seal of approval as it is well known that Prince Charles does not like modernity but favours traditional materials.  The project manager of the development admits that Prince Charles has received lots of different samples of materials ranging from Hemcrete which is hemp bound with lime to blocks made from recycled waste clay and straw. 

The main emphasis of the development at Newquay, as with other developments that he has been involved in, is sustainability.  The architect involved stresses that the key to it is to use local materials and to build in the traditional ways.  The idea is to have a house which is cool in summer and warm in winter.  Ground source heat pumps and solar panels are only economically viable as long as the feed-in tariffs are maintained but the government is already thinking of reducing these in the near future. 

Prince Charles knows what he is talking about after his success at Poundbury.  The “eco village” is made up of townhouses, cottages, shops and businesses and is now called home to 1,500 people.  There have been critics of the village, some calling it “toy town” but there are always buyers willing to live there.  Three bedroom terraced properties go on the market for £249,950.  Many talk of the community spirit of the village and all ages tend to settle there. 

Prince Charles’s other development is Coed Darcy, a developemtn built on 1,400 acres of brownfield land between Swansea and Neath.  The £1.2billion site was once the first crude-oil refinery in Britain and work began in 2008.  Residents have already moved into some of the houses on the development last Christmas.  Many of the residents took advantage of the shared ownership scheme offered which meant that they only had to come up with a 5% deposit.  The agent looking after sales of the new homes there has spoken of how popular the traditional houses are to buyers.  Prices start at £79,995 for a studio and go up to £199,995 for a four bedroom family home.

Another development is based in Knockroon near Cumnock.  The 69 acre site used to be an old mining village but will now house 600 new homes, however there are tough rules to adhere to like Poundbury had.  There are to be no satellite dishes allowed and the lettering of houses should be no bigger than 3in high.  There are also restrictions on hedges in terms of colour and species. 

Prince Charles’s developments are not without their critics, many architects say that his view sustainability equates to “old looking”.  Even if something is eco friendly but is modern they feel that Prince Charles will not approve.  This has not stopped the Prince, he is now looking to re-build 50 blocks in the old quarter of Port-au-Prince after the Haitian earthquake and there are plans for an eco-town in Calcutta.  This will provide 15,000 sustainable homes for the people there.