Out on the Streets: Poundbury Bypass

Hurrah - Lucy and I are doing another post together today - click here to see our previous one about an aptly named sponsor for a roundabout in Weymouth, which by a strange coincidence is covered in snow again this morning. Lucy's been sending me all sorts of useful stuff concerning public planting in Dorset and we agreed another joint (ad)venture was just the thing for this quarter's Out on the Streets. This time she's posting a photograph over at Pictures Just Pictures which shows just how steep the land on other side of the fence is and also the extent of the tree planting down the slope. She's kindly sent me a further two photos for posting here together with the results of her research on what this is all about:

Poundbury is an area of new housing and places to work on the outskirts of Dorchester.

Emotionally and geographically, it looms on the county town's horizon. Not everyone likes it. Its mixture of styles is seen as a mish-mash rather than eclectic, and its emphasis on the traditional and the vernacular - a snub to contemporary architects.

(I like it!)

But, whatever people make of Poundbury, one thing is certain. Much thought and effort has been put into it, with a lot of attention to detail.

The bund which runs along the bypass (on the A35) is an example of this. It is a huge earthworks, a rampart against the noise of traffic. It is also described as a 'Nature Break' because more than a thousand English native shrubs and trees have been planted along its bank to provide a future habitat for small animals and birds. The trees are ones which will be short in stature when fully grown and include dogwood, blackthorn, small ash and holly.

Most gardens in Poundbury are tiny. However, even they provide a haven for small birds and there are more living in them now than there were in the fields and hedgerows of the immediate area before building began. Even the houses have been built with birds in mind for they have eaves for swallows to nest in.

What with its mixture of housing association and privately owned dwellings, its imaginative playgrounds for small children, the determination to have places of work right where people live instead of hived off onto industrial estates, it would be nice to say this is a vision of socialism, designed by the people, for the people. But . . . well . . . no . . . it is all on Duchy of Cornwall land - which means it's the brain child of Prince Charles.

(Incidentally, washing lines are allowed. "That they are not is a myth," I was told when I phoned the Duchy Office to check. "There are lots of myths about Poundbury," said the man on the phone, with a sigh.)

Thanks Lucy - that's great stuff. Her photos show one of the common solutions for our bypasses around built-up areas. As well as the trees providing a stabilisation of the steep slope and a screen against traffic noise, grants are available for the planting. My concern is their density and whether any thinning out is included in the plans for these schemes. I also wonder if any wildflower sowing is planned for lower down the slope as a number authorities have incorporated this into their roadside plantings. More on this when I post my guide to verges later. We may yet hear some more from Lucy on this topic as she emailed me a couple of days ago:

Someone from the Duchy office phoned during the day - not realising someone else had already replied to my questions. So I asked him about planting density and why there are trees only on one side of the bund. He seemed quite startled about the second question - it hadn't struck him before - so he's going to find out the answers to both and phone back.

Remember, there's still time for you to tell us about the public planting in your neighbourhood. All you need to do is write a post on your blog sometime in March, then go here and add your name and URL of your post to the Mr Linky widget at the end, so that everyone can find you. I'll also be writing a wrap-up at the end of the month as well as adding a couple of extra pieces of my own in the meantime.


  1. This is such a great colloboration. I have commented on Lucy's post so won't repeat it here. Great stuff.

  2. An intriguing effort at designing a community. Since it is fairly new, it would be interesting to track it over a long period.

    I am planning to work on my public planting post sometime next week--we're currently in midterms here and I am awash in work. The tides are lapping a my feet as we speak...

    I have told our university's landscape architect about the meme and invited him to collaborate on a post since he always has these very interesting stories about the hidden concerns that must be dealt with when creating a public space...

  3. Hermes - thanks. I've also replied to your comment over at Lucy's.

    Susan - no hurry there's still most of March left :) It would be great to have a collaborative post from you as I've just bought a fascinating book looking at public planting from a landscape architect's viewpoint. It would be great to hear what he has to say on the topic :) Good luck with your workload - don't forget to keep your head above the water!

  4. An interesting concept for developing a community. Far too often, subdivisions built around here are more concerned with the almighty dollar and keeping up "appearances." It's wonderful they are thinking of wildlife, but I also like that clotheslines are allowed:) I always thought a ban on them was ridiculous.

  5. "There are lots of myths about Poundbury," said the man on the phone, with a sigh.)"---poor man--i almost sorry for him! i also *enjoyed* reading that native trees & shrubs have been planted. a particularly strong peeve of mine is ignoring native plantings for showy foreign plantings of the latest trend.

  6. Rose - I believe the grants available encourage native planting. I need to do some further research to confirm that. The species are widely used over here - apart from the dogwood they're standard components of our hedgerows.

    Petoskystone - I loved that part of Lucy's story!


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