PLANNING APPLICATIONS RECEIVED BY BOURNEMOUTH PLANNING DEPARTMENT DURING FEBUARY 2019 – A CRITIQUE BY JOHN SOANE, BUILT ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTANT TO BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY
Wotton Grange, 3 Wootton Mount Ref. No. 7-2019-1315-H
This is an application to construct a seven storey building of 41 flats on the site of an older considerably altered building at Wootton Mount between Old Christchurch Road and Bath Road. The new structure would be constructed at the southern corner of the site on a built footprint of roughly similar size to the existing one and in the form of two interlocking rectangular blocks connected to an encompassing section to the north and west with a pronounced semi circular termination. The main east elevation would consist of alternative, concrete edged projections with French windows and glass balconies – interspersed by flush vertical fenestration on the main façade. The more restrained side elevations would have regularly spaced vertical windows somewhat asymmetrically positioned.
The Society finds the new block rather banal and repetitive and generally similar to a fair number of similar properties constructed in recent years. We think that even if it proves impossible to reduce the height of the structure, the general appearance of the main facades could be made more integrated in a more sensitive way so as to appear less “chunky.” At the very least the balconies could be designed incorporating imitation iron railings.
The Society realizes that because this site is on the boundary between the nineteenth century townscape along Old Christchurch Road (a Conservation Area) and the higher flat blocks in Bath Road it is difficult to decide to which of these two very different forms of urban structure the new development should give precedence. However in view of the fact that another seven storey flat block in the near vicinity called Woodland Point is already built and also that the site in question is not spatially connected in any way to the buildings of Old Christchurch Road, we think that the proposed block should be considered spatially and visually as part of the urban spectacle of Bath Road as seen from Wootton Mount. In addition we feel that the provision of further accommodation for students at the nearby Lansdowne campus of Bournemouth University is a practical step. Therefore the Society has concluded that since this application has not completely fulfilled the townscape-cum-conservation policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further improvement. (Policy 4.19,I,ii,iii )
Royal Arcade, Christchurch Road, Boscombe Ref. No. 7-2019-16746-AS
This is an application to comprehensively renovate the accommodation in the principal entrance façade and on the first and second floors of the interior L shaped inner courtyard of the Royal Arcade in Boscombe. Provision will be made for new flats, offices and retail improvement on the ground floor where applicable. The Society strongly supports this very welcome restoration of this well known, Flemish Renaissance style heritage asset that has been neglected for many years. We are advised that while the external appearance of the structure will not be greatly changed; very considerable improvements and extensive restructuring of the interior rooms will be necessary which have become very neglected over the years. In addition, the Society feels that in one of the less affluent areas of Bournemouth, this project , besides offering reasonably priced accommodation will considerably enhance the general living appeal of central Boscombe for its younger inhabitants. Consequently since this application satisfies the townscape conditions of the Bournemouth Local Plan, we think it should be allowed. (Policy 4.19, i.ii.iii )
10 Suffolk Road , Town Centre Ref. No 7-2019-6638-J
This is an application by Bournemouth Churches Housing Association to demolish an existing twentieth century hostel on the corner of Suffolk and Cambridge Roads and to construct on the same side but with a larger footprint, a purpose built, mainly seven storey block, containing 31 flats for working people of limited means. The new structure would be designed in the modernist style in the form of a staggered rectangle and on every floor the glass apartment facades (complete with glass balconies) would be divided from those below and above by thick concrete baulks. There would be a staircase well with slatted lighting with a flat roof above.
Although the Society fully supports the philanthropic aims of this enterprise, we feel very strongly that the building proposed is completely out of character with the surrounding townscapes which consists of a mixture of later nineteenth century terrace houses, converted flats or relatively modern, purpose blocks of flats. We think the design of this proposed structure displays a staggering absence of sensitivity in respect to the established visual character of adjacent buildings. The Society agrees fully with the views of many of the 20 letters written by local inhabitants who complain of the over powering and alien impact of the new proposal and the negative effect it would have on the heritage characteristics and quality of life in the area,
We certainly cannot agree with the opinion expressed in the Design Statement that the buildings in the area have a negligible architectural significance; quite the contrary for we feel strongly that it is the collective aesthetic impact of all buildings of every quality within a particular urban context that creates a unique and integrated Sense of Place. However the Society realizes that in this instance, imaginative visual perceptions are likely to be in short supply because social improvers are often so focussed by their honourable mission that they become oblivious to the necessity of creating an enhancing environment parallel with improving basic human needs..
Under the circumstances since this application in no way satisfies the demands of the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, we feel it should be refused. (Policy 4.19,I,ii,iii )
Nuffield Hospital, Lansdowne Road Ref. No. 7-2019-6898-AZ
This is an application to demolish the greater part of existing late nineteenth century villa and to construct behind the retained façade and on empty land between the villa and existing hospital buildings, extensive new medical treatment facilities.
Generally speaking, the Society thinks that over the last 30 years, the extra ancillary buildings that have been added to the site, which originally contained five villas, have been generally sympathetic in repect to the general, established, late nineteenth century character of the area. We therefore feel that irrespective of the reasonable design of other new ancillary buildings, the link section between the reconstructed villa and the existing hospital buildings, because of its austere walls and horizontal window openings, simply does not harmonize with the two structures that it joins. Naturally the Society supports the most advantageous positioning of the most up-to-date medical equipment; but if it is possible to build most of the Nuffield Hospital in a compatible architectural style, and as seen with the harmonious extensions at Bournemouth Hospital, surely it is possible to design the new Nuffield link in a more acceptable way so as to achieve a sense of aesthetic compatability with the structures it connects? We ask what is the point of preserving the façade of a fine nineteenth century villa if its adjacent context is immediately compromised by a piece inappropriate design?
Therefore since we feel that since this application has not fully satisfied the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion and improvement. (Policy 4.19, I,ii,iii )
Hotel Rivera, West Cliff Gardens Ref. No 7-2019-8921-D
This is an outline application to construct a five storey block of 13 flats on the site of an existing, late nineteenth century hotel which has long been a distinctive feature of the West Cliff. The new built footprint would be distinctly larger than the present one, extending right from the edge of the site near the public foot path to the opposite boundary. The site lies within the West Cliff Conservation Area.
The proposed block would be in the form of a large rectangle with a three storey extension to the rear of the site. It would imitate the somewhat flamboyant, historicist style that was much in vogue during the late Nineteenth Century for the construction of mansion flat blocks at the more well-to-do seaside resorts. The principal seaward elevation would have a strong vertical emphasis with two central projections connected to four storey bay windows and crowned by two, large, half timbered gables framing a central one on the main façade. The outer edges of the principal façade and the dormers above would have prominent balconies of imitation wrought iron railings. Fenestration, except for arched openings on the ground floor would be mainly in the form of symmetrically positioned casement windows and French windows. The asymmetrical side elevations would be less elaborate variations of the principal façade – except that the south east side elevation would include a lower end section over a wide service entrance and with a three story oriel above in Arts and Crafts style.
The Society fully concedes that this more elaborate form of architectural design can be seen in various parts of the West Cliff and can be said to have become part of the overall visual character of this part of Bournemouth over the years. Nevertheless we think that what is actually proposed on this site is far too massive in relation to the overall scale of the adjacent buildings in West Cliff Gardens and would, when the adjacent site of the Saint George Hotel is eventually redeveloped, turn the existing open approach to the West Cliff by the existing footpath into a gloomy tunnel. These views are reflected by the majority of the 30 letters received about this application by local residents. In particular the view has been expressed that the lower density, linear character of the area would be affected by the destruction of the balance of spatial visuality along West Cliff Gardens which would in turn create a negative effect on the initial reaction of residents and visitors as they approach the West Overcliff Drive. We also note that there is also further concern that the excessive width of the new structure will seriously restrict existing sea views from neighbouring flats (which we appreciate thought is not a planning consideration) and that an increased hazard would be created where an increased number of vehicles have to cross the public foot path to reach the rear car park.
Consequently, if this development is allowed to go ahead, the Society thinks that the two sections at the extremities of the principal elevation should be reduced or removed and one storey should be removed from the entire building. If these measures are taken, the new building would then conform to the existing building line and general appearance of West Cliff Gardens and the open form of the foot path approach to the West Cliff Green would be preserved.
Under the circumstances, we feel that because this application does not properly fulfill the conservation policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. (Policy 4.4,I,ii,iii )
10 Seamoor Lane, Westbourne Ref. No. 7-2019-23270-E
This is an application to reconstruct an existing two storey building of no architectural significance for students by the addition of another floor and a new internal staircase within a new, narrow entrance projection. The building would be entirely surrounded by the rear facades of late nineteenth century structures and centered upon Seamoor Lane and Eldon Place. It would be virtually hidden from view from Seamoor Road and Poole Road where the townscape is within the West Cliff Conservation Area.
The existing structure would be heightened and given a quasi-Mansard style pitched roof and the narrow entrance /staircase structure would have a sloping roof. Apart from three dormers, the asymmetrical fenestration from the original structure would be retained; the new staircase entrance being lighted by two long vertical strip windows.
The Society is of the opinion that this building, given its unique context, is a kind of architectural caprice. It is generally traditional in mass and proportion but distinctly modern in pretention. We feel that given the discrete location of this structure, such visual anomalies in the midst of a conservation area might just be possible. Only the new front façade would be partially seen at the end of Seamoor Lane from Seamoor Road.
Therefore we think that under the circumstances, since the townscape/conservation policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan do not appear to have been breached, the application should be allowed.
(Policies 4.4/,4.19,I,ii,iii )
36-36a Southbourne Road, Southbourne Ref. No. 7-2019-10487-E
This is an application to construct a two/three storey, right angled, low level, terrace block of 9 flats at the junction of Southbourne Road and Sunnyhill Road. It would be built on the site of a much altered and extended, older structure on a very spacious site which ideally we would not wish to see demolished.
The principal elevation to Southbourne Road would comprise a traditionally proportioned, terraced building with slight projections and a hipped roof with dormers. Fenestration would be in the form of mainly double casement windows. The continuous, shorter corner and Sunnyhill block would have a distinctive angled projection at the corner balanced by a similar projection further along the façade. The main rear carpark entrance would be through this projection and this shorter section would be terminated by a two story window bay with gable. Fenestration would be similar to that in Southbourne Road with the addition of small oriels on the first floor of the two projections which would merge into gables within the hipped roof.
The main problem that the Society has to decide is ,if the principal of loss of the existing building is accepted, is given that surrounding Victorian properties are mainly in the form of semi-detached properties, will the much larger built foot print of what is proposed create a structure with a mass and form that would be spatially disruptive in respect to the smaller scale of the adjacent townscape. Such a view is certainly endorsed by a considerable number of comments by local inhabitants who feel that as it stands, the new development will not respect the evolved architectural traditions of the neighbourhood and also result in the loss of natural ground cover and an increase in traffic.
The Society suggests that given the much larger dimensions of the site in question, a possible solution, if the principle of the loss of existing building is accepted, would be the division of the proposed block in two sections at the corner of the two roads. A visual feature could be made by combining the two `end facades of each block into a single architectural feature to frame the entrance there to the rear car park.
Under the circumstances, we think that since the conditions of the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan have not been fully carried out, the application should be refused (Policy 4.19, I,ii,iii )
318-324 Holdenhurst Road Ref. No. 7-2019-294-J
This is an application to construct a four storey block containing 22 small flats and four retail units on the site of a one storey multiple auto servicing facility at the corner of Victoria Place and Holdenhurst Road. The existing structures on the site are of no architectural value whatsoever.
The new structure would follow the existing built foot print on the site, would be rectangular in shape and have a traditional roof with dormers. The street façade would be enhanced by alternate changes in building materials; fenestration on the first and second floors being in the form of symmetrically positioned, casement windows with an oriel at the road junction. There would be modern shop fronts on the ground floor and car parking facilities at the rear – and under the rear elevation of the block.
The Society fully approves of this venture and the projected design. We think the new building would not only provide much need extra accommodation at a reasonable price, but also help to revive a rather neglected retail area of Bournemouth.
Therefore since this application adequately fulfills the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, we think it should be allowed. ( Policy 4.19,i.ii.iii )
Royal London House, the Lansdowne Ref. No. 7-2019-1102-BX
This is an application to make certain alterations and extensions to Royal London House, a distinctive, white, early modernist office block at the corner of Holdenhurst and Christchurch Road that was built in the 1950’s to replace the Metropole Hotel, destroyed during WWII. A mixed usage of the property is envisaged; a combination of office suites and tourism and hospitality facilities. For this reason at the top of the property, two floors consisting of a glassed in loggia and upper terrace will be created. The office suites will be intended to accommodate research teams or individuals working on academically inspired projects from the nearby campus of Bournemouth University. New cafes/restaurants will be near by to enhance this process the facilities for which will be similar to plans for the Old Echo Office, Richmond Hill. The project in question will also include some serviced apartments.
The Society consider the prospective improvements to Royal London House a most worthwhile enterprise and therefore because this application satisfies all the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, we feel it should be allowed. (Policy 4.19, I,ii,iii )
11-21 Commercial Road , Town Centre Ref. No. 7-2019-665-BJ
This is an application to remove the modernist plastic cladding on the upper facades either side and above the main entrance to the Avenue Shopping Centre in Commercial Road. The basic intention is to recreate and restore much of the original mid-twentieth century façade of the original building. The central section would be in the form of a tower, faced with green and brown bricks with an advertising aperture below and vertical windows above. The western section would have large arched openings on the first floor with square windows above; the eastern section would display large, integrated rectangular windows on two floors in the style of International Moderne. Separate modern shop units would be on the ground floor.
The Society strongly welcomes the renovation of older retail properties along Commercial Road. We think that such action will greatly improve the attractiveness and thus the economic potentiality of the area. We also think that this development will also mitigate the poor quality of recent retail facilities in the upper part of Commercial Road nearer to the Triangle.
Consequently the Society feel that since this application certainly fulfills the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be allowed. (Policy 4.19,i.ii.iii )