BUSINESS leaders have been told to expect a ‘shock to the system’ as development at Poundbury gathers pace.

Duchy of Cornwall estate director for Dorchester Simon Conibear told a meeting of the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce that the rate of building at Prince Charles’ model development faces a ‘step change’ in the next two to three years.

He said: “It’s going to be the most frenetic and active in my career.

“We are under the cosh to get Queen Mother Square built by March 2016.

“You are going to see some enormous buildings sprouting out of the ground in the next two-and-half years.”

Mr Conibear said the square would feature apartments, including ‘top grade properties’ that are likely to sell for as much as £1.2million, as well as commercial space, a large pub and possibly a hotel.

He said: “This will be a shock to the system when people see it coming out of the ground.”

Mr Conibear said a plinth will be going up in the square next year and the statue of the Queen Mother will be unveiled when the square is opened in March 2016.

Elsewhere on Poundbury a development of 80 retirement homes from McCarthy and Stone is also due to be completed by the time the square opens, while another 500 homes will be built over the next four to five years.

Mr Conibear said there was an aspiration that the 600-pupil first school would be open by September 2015.

He added that Poundbury was continuing to prove a success story in terms of business and commerce.

He said: “Jobs growth in Poundbury has been spectacular.”

Mr Conibear said the latest count revealed there were 1,902 people working in Poundbury businesses, up by around 250 from the same time last year.

He added that there were now 153 businesses operating in the area, compared to 136 just 12 months ago and many of those were the kind of small firms that made Poundbury ‘special’.

Mr Conibear said: “I think Poundbury is the only place I know of where a new development is being built with small business opportunities integrated among the community that is arising.”

He added that one of the things he was most proud of was the high percentage of women who were setting up their businesses in Poundbury.

Mr Conibear also outlined to Chamber members the site to the south west of Dorchester’s Stadium Roundabout that the Duchy had allocated for a park and ride site for 500 cars and a trunk road service area.

He said that, although the Duchy would not be responsible for developing the 11-acre site, it had made the land available and hoped to see the scheme come forward in the next two to three years.