When the Prince of Wales Is Your Landlord


NEWQUAY, England — People who move to Nansledan, a new residential community in the southwestern corner of England, must abide by certain rules.

Homes and doors can be painted only certain colors, including pastel pink and eggshell blue. Local businesses are welcome to set up shop, but no fast-food chains, please. And don’t think of tampering with the dime-size holes in some of the bricks outside the houses: They are there to make homes for bees.

Also, don’t be surprised if you see Charles, the Prince of Wales, strolling down the street, admiring what he has wrought.

Nansledan, which will eventually have about 4,000 homes, could be the most ambitious project undertaken in the 700 years of the Duchy of Cornwall, the patchwork of properties spread across England, covering more than 200 square miles, that provides an income to the Prince of Wales.

Nansledan, the duchy says, has been inspired by Prince Charles’s philosophy on architecture and the environment. The prince is outspoken in his support for traditional housing styles and sustainable development.

In a treatise titled “Housing Britain: A Call to Action,” the prince has written, “We must demand better places that break the stranglehold of the conventional mold of monocultural housing estates and zoned developments that, up to now, have put the car at the center of the design process and not the pedestrian and thereby created an increasingly unsustainable environment.”

The streets of Nansledan are angled to discourage drivers from speeding, and the layout is intended to allow residents to reach shops and schools without having to drive. Marketplaces, plazas and nature reserves have been built in for residents. Houses have bird boxes constructed into their walls to encourage nesting, and the gardens have communal orchards.

Alex Eley said she jumped at the opportunity to set up shop there in October 2018 because she thought the Duchy of Cornwall would be supportive toward her catering business, which limits plastic and uses local products. Prince Charles made the duchy’s own farm entirely organic more than 30 years ago, and he has separately set up the Duchy Originals brand, which sells organic food. He spoke about the topic of sustainability at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week.

“We’re shouting and preaching from the same hymnbook,” Ms. Eley said.

Residents’ commitment to the community has helped with maintenance, too. The site has had problems with dog poop being left out and construction materials blowing away from the building sites by high coastal winds. So Mr. Smith organized a group to go litter picking that has been nicknamed Team Sparkle.

“It’s perfect,” Mr. Smith said with evident pride. “It’s so safe because everybody is watching.”

Mr. Smith is also a staunch royalist — it was the Duchy of Cornwall name that drew him to take a look at the development while on holiday.

To him, the royal family can do no wrong. Harry will be a “people’s prince, like Diana,” even if he moves away, Mr. Smith said.

Mr. Drohan is equally sympathetic. “You can’t blame them, the way they treat them,” he said of the tabloids. “To be fair to Meghan, they are dreadful.”

Life in the community, where a four-bedroom home goes for about £400,000, is not without small frustrations. There is, for example, an issue with a pizza van.

Danny Murphy, who opened the barbershop almost two years ago, has had his own run-in with the rules. He wants to put up a single barber pole, but the duchy has stipulated that he must have two poles and that they must be just red and white.

“They’re quite funny about what they want here,” Mr. Murphy said.

His fellow barber, Max Hoar, shrugged: “What they say goes.”


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