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CHARLES' CLASSICAL CONURBATION

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NEWS

The traditionalists and Classicists are infine form.

If you drop in to any of their offices - be it Robert Adam, Quinlan Terry or John Simpson - they seem all-too chipper.

They seem to have a sense that they are on the march and, like it or not, they do seem to be making headway, at least in government. There can be no doubt, for example, that John Prescott is at the least a sympathiser.

It emerged this week that later this year they are going to receive another significant boost - the Prince's Foundation will apply for outline planning permission for a traditionalist settlement that will put Poundbury in the shade.

This scheme, for an entire new settlement in the Sherford Valley, just outside Plymouth, is by far the biggest undertaking the Prince's mob has ever undertaken.

Designed by Ben Bolgar, the foundation's design director, and heavily backed by its American director Hank Dittmar, the development shows the extent of the traditionalists' ambition.

With 4,500 new homes and 5,000 new jobs this isn't some model village - this is a whole new town. It will take in shops, a hospital and schools.

This will truly attempt to show how the Prince of Wales and his acolytes would have normal people live.

Poundbury will seem to have been simply a warm-up exercise.

There can be no doubt that there is a lot riding on the Sherford experiment. Dittmar himself, a former director of North America's Congress for a New Urbanism, makes no bones about how seriously he takes the project.

Dittmar made it explicitly clear when he joined the Foundation back in 2004 that working on major new development opportunities was one of the top priorities. But none so far have got close to the scale of Sherford.

'The Prince's Foundation is pushing the envelope even further at Sherford, ' he has said previously, 'where we are integrating traditional urbanism, modern construction methods, and new approaches to sustainability.'

And according to Bolgar, the foundation is now exceptionally confident about the future of the project. With the tacit support of Plymouth Council already in place, this is hardly surprising. 'We are writing the design codes at the moment that will define the [design] process, ' he told the AJ.

'It's fair to say we are doing something pretty large and complex. We are trying to do things that we know work.

It will be using the logic of a traditional village, and will certainly have legible streets.

'It is the first time we have taken this scale of development to outline stage. It's the biggest scheme we've taken to outline planning permission, ' he added.

No wonder those traditionalists are feeling pretty pleased with themselves.

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