New School – Stafford Road, Maderia Road and  Lansdown Road         Ref.  No.  7-2018-8363-G

This is a major application to build a new educational  academy serving children between 4 and 19 years by the Livingstone Educational Trust.  With the exception of the listed,  early twentieth century, neo-baroque, Old Court Building in Stafford Road, the new structures in modernist style would be constructed on the site of all the adjacent  late nineteenth/mid twentieth century buildings, recently used by Bournemouth Police and Bournemouth Magistrates, which would be demolished.

The Society notes that as a result of the considerable recent increase in the number of children of school age  living in the more central areas of Bournemouth, the need for a new school in an accessible position in the town has become more urgent.   We therefore accept that the old police station site is a reasonable place for the new educational facilities. We note that the historic and listed Court building would be transformed into class rooms for the  Sixth Form, the adjacent  modernist 1960’s  Crown Court extension would become the new Primary School, while the new build extension along Maderia Road would house the Secondary School classes.

The principal facade along Maderia Road would consist  of a five storey horizontal block punctuated by groups of large standard sized square windows which would be divided by large scale  asymmetrical vertical fenestration elements in the centre.  On the corner of Maderia/Stafford Roads would be a three storey wing with deeply hooded windows towards Stafford Road and extensive walling and irregular fenestration towards Maderia Road.  The design of the courtyard side of the new school would be made up of architectural elements  taken from the Maderia Road elevation and  in respect to the modernist crown court extension little visual change would be contemplated.

The Society is of the opinion that while fully approving the planned extensive restoration of the  facade of the listed Old  Court Building we do not think that the new construction does much to enhance further the aesthetic context of this historic structure.   Irrespective of the grandiloquent claim that what would be built would greatly improve the quality of the existing general environment and would harmonize with the adjacent townscape; the fact remains that the greater part of the site would be covered by public buildings designed  in a catch all, government approved, not especially original, contemporary modernist style.  But even if the existence of the existing crown court extension in Stafford Road and the presence of several recently built, modernist structures at the junction of Maderia and Landsdown Roads  are an obvious invitation to build in a modernist idiom on this site;  the Society believes this certainly does not excuse the absence of  visual imagination and better design.

For a start, we are strongly against the demolition of the elegant Old Police Station , a pleasing structure in Anglo-Dutch, seventeenth century neo-baroque style which we believe is large enough to be turned into viable school premises.  Moreover even if the overall proportions of the large replacement new build block  might be reasonably acceptable, the mechanistic positioning of the square windows and  the un-coordinated central fenestration,  are we think, further  design mistakes.   Finally the Society feels that the mass and architectural form of the side elevation of the principal facade at the corner of Stafford Road is far too insensitive in relation to the Old Court House.  In addition we are certain that the heavily  shaded windows on the corner of this elevation are visually unnecessary  and may well  restrict sunlight on cloudy days.

Therefore we suggest an overall  more integrated approach: modern certainly,  but  with a greater intuitive  respect for the general  classical cannons of architectural form as  seen in the Old Court House. Thus we think a symmetrically  structured  principal facade with balancing three storey wings at each extremity along Maderia Road ( if decided upon ) would be an improvement together with a more regular fenestration scheme. However we also think that it is possible to enhance the appearance of windows in the centre without unbalancing the overall wall to window ration of the entire elevation.   We also think that the area of playground space allowed to the pupils in the courtyard area of the site is insufficient.   We are certain that this could be increased by the reduction of the width and the rearranging of the positions   of  some of  the built elements at the rear of the site.

Therefore after  mature consideration the Society has decided that since this application does not properly fulfil  the conditions of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused or deferred for further improvement.  ( Policies 4.19,i,ii,iii)

Punshon Memorial Church site,  Exeter Road     Ref.  No.7-2018-643-W

This is an application to construct a one to seven storey block of 85 flats and retail facilities on the site of the demolished Puncheon Memorial Church. The site has been subject to previous planning interests.

The new building would be in the form of a generally rectangular block but with each floor creating a stepped appearance of different lengths on the western side elevation. The principal elevation, above  the larger retail openings on the ground floor, would consist of six very similar floors  fronted by large vertical glass panels and set in front  of prominent communial glass balconies which would support by means of regularly spaced supports, a common loggia for each floor.  There would be a flat roofed penthouse above  and in both the side and rear elevations  vertical  windows/glass panels would be more prominent due to the absence of prominent balconies.

The Society strongly  feel  that in its excessive mass and form  and  in the unimaginative architectural  design of its facades  this new proposed building is totally unsuitable for the very distinctive location in which it would be set.  If it were built we are certain  it would create a most negative spatial disorientation in respect to the more proportionally balanced listed buildings either side:  the Royal Exeter Hotel and  the Punshon House Hotel.    Since the appearance of what is proposed is little better than the uninspiring and banal flat architecture of the 1960’s;  if built, we think it would stick out like a sore thumb with negligible perception for the historical value of the area. We also feel that 85 flats is far too large a number of accommodation units for the size of the site.

The Society would therefore suggest, certainly a modern building but in deference to its neighbours, a structure with a more  integrated design in which a reduction of height  and a balanced  synthesis of verticality with horizontality, without  modernist ziggurat fads,  all combining to allow a far better replacement to rise on the site of the Punshon Memorial Church.

We have therefore decided that since this application falls considerably below the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused.  (Policy 4.19,i,ii,iii )

3 Southbourne Coast Road    Ref. No.  7-2018-19611-E

This is an application to build a two and a half storey block of two semi-detached houses on the site of an existing mid-twentieth century bungalow of some architectural pretension.  The proposed structure would be rectangular and the principal seaward elevation would consist of four sets of symmetrically positioned French windows, the first floor with divided  Juliet balconies and large dormers in the double gabled hipped roof.  The rear elevation would be simpler with regularly positioned vertical windows.

On the one hand the Society realises that the gradual replacement of bungalows in this part of the Bournemouth  Overcliff,  over time could erode  the existing low density  spatial setting and social structure of the existing townscape.  At the same time we appreciate that there has been a particular trend in recent years towards the construction in places of  higher density structures in this area.   We would suggest that the best way of solving what form of future development might eventually be allowed is to be guided by the particular spatial circumstances of the application.  Thus in this case the proposed size of the form and mass of the new building can be regarded as a visual stepping stone between the small bungalows that continue further east and the larger apartment building recently constructed.  We would however advise that the large six pane French windows on the principal facade be divided up into less block looking shapes.  Therefore under the circumstances, the Society recommends that because this application has not completely satisfied the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan it should be deferred for further improvement rather than be refused. ( Policy 4.19, i.ii.iii )

58  Harewood Avenue,   Ref. No 7-2018-23260-B

This is an application to demolish a single mid twentieth century family bungalow and replace it with a pair of semi-detached bungalows.  The general design would be a fairly conventional semi tradition shape with French windows and a hipped roof.

The Society asks itself whether it is right to begin increasing the density of somewhat larger buildings on plots that were originally designed  for single plot use by family bungalows. In this respect our views are similar to local opinion where there is also the fear that if this and further  applications of this kind were allowed  there would be an unwelcome increase in traffic and more to the point, valuable green space would be lost by means of  “garden grabbing” whereby hither to limited portions of un built on land around existing buildings would be excessively  developed by multiple residential structures.  In view of this we consider this application falls short of the requirements of the Bournemouth Local Plan and so should be refused. ( Policy 4.19, i.ii.iii )