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Prince imparts community planning wisdom

The Prince of Wales passed on his tips for community planning today, calling on housing developers to consider whether they would live in their own sites.

Charles told a seminar of council planners, executives and elected members that “few people” are creating “fully sustainable” places, except his own Princes’ Foundation for the Built Environment.

The royal was addressing a seminar at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, attended by the Scottish Government’s chief planner, Jim Mackinnon, and representatives from the country’s 32 local authorities.

He said: “Place-making is an incredibly complex art. When people talk glibly about sustainable communities, there are very few people that can actually make that happen because it requires a lot of effort, it requires a lot of learning, it requires a lot of experience.”

“I hate to say this, but I will, and that is that at the end of the day my foundation is about the only one, certainly in this country, trying to encourage a revised approach.”

“So often it seems to me the rule books drawn up in the 1950s-60s have become less than perhaps appropriate for the situation and the challenges we now face.”

“Rule books, for road engineers in particular, so often mean at the end of the day that you can only produce another housing estate, not an actual community of place.”

The prince, called the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, warned against projects such as one in Somerset where the authority insisted affordable housing should be separated rather than mixed with other types.

Now a “mini Berlin wall” is being built between the areas because of problems associated with the lower-cost scheme.

He added: “I still think there are just one or two basic rules of thumb worth remembering.”

“First of all is: would I live in or next to the development? I keep saying to house-builders and developers, where do you live? Would you live next to, or in view of, the places you build? Not a bad test at the end of the day.”

Charles held up a scheme in east Ayrshire as an example of good planning.

Knockroon, which will extend Cumnock with a mix of low-cost and other types of housing, has been awarded “exemplar status” for its approach.

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