Prince’s Foundation to review troubled East Ayrshire eco-village

A pioneering eco-village backed by the Prince of Wales is to be reviewed after only a fraction of the development has been completed.

The Prince’s Foundation, a charity aimed at promoting urban design, had planned to deliver 770 homes at Knockroon in East Ayrshire.

Image courtesy of Ben Pentreath Architecture

The development had endorsed by the Scottish Government as an “ambitious and inspiring” design exemplar and was billed as Scotland’s rival to Prince Charles’s Poundbury village in Dorset.

However, eight years after construction began on the site, only 31 homes have been built, with no homes built in the past three years. More than 300 of the houses should have been finished by 2017.

Now the Prince’s Foundation said that the entire project would be “reviewed and evaluated” over the next year.

The charitable subsidiary responsible for Knockroon’s construction has run up losses of more than half a million pounds for the second successive year, while the stock value of its landholdings is now worth a little over a third of what it stood at two years ago.

In accounts for the Prince’s Foundation, filed with Companies House this month, the charity said that it was taking time to pause and consider Knockroon’s evolution.

It states: “The development company continues to work towards making good defects and developing the infrastructure for the roads and pavements.

“Over the next year the Knockroon project will be reviewed and evaluated. Following review, a comprehensive plan of development will be presented for consideration before the next phase of work commences.”

One of Scotland’s leading architects has described the development as little more than a “construction site”.

Alan Dunlop told The Scotsman: “The development is a curious mix of relatively expensive, faux Georgian homes dropped into a bucolic setting. The first homes were completed in 2012 and as I predicted in 2016 there is clearly limited appeal. There is a dearth of infrastructure and major capital work seems slow to arrive.

“The enterprise is reported to be incurring significant losses; is struggling to find new home buyers; and has existing purchasers apparently stuck on a building site. The original marketing promised heritage-led regeneration and the delivery of both a new community and improved quality of life. It has not delivered on these ambitions. This area cries out for authentic investment in good-quality housing, which local people can relate to and can afford.”

Gordon Neil, deputy executive director of the Prince’s Foundation, said: “The Prince’s Foundation remains fully committed to realising its vision for Knockroon. A decade has passed since the creation of the masterplan for the site, and much has changed in that time in terms of the local and wider economy.

“As in all long-term construction projects, it is incumbent on us, the developers, to remain flexible and adaptable to changing conditions throughout the build, and we will conduct a review that allows us to ensure we create a development that meets the needs of the community.”

He added: “During the first two years of the second phase of the development, we will look to make significant investment into the project. The project will use the local supply chain, demonstrating investment into the local community as well as minimising environmental impact through shorter transportation times of materials “In line with The Prince’s Foundation’s commitment to offering education and training opportunities where possible, modern apprenticeships will be offered across all trades on the development.”

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