PLANNING APPLICATIONS RECEIVED BY BOURNEMOUTH PLANNING DEPARTMENT DURING FEBRUARY 2021 – A CRITIQUE BY JOHN SOANE, BUILT ENVIRONMENT CONSULTANT TO BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY
AECC University College Campus, Parkwood Road, Boscombe Ref. No. 7-2021-3244-P
This is an application by the College of Chiropractic, Boscombe to demolish an existing sports hall on an adjacent site (between Parkwood and Harvey Roads) and to construct on this site, a rehabilitation centre together with changing and consultation rooms.
The Society note that facilities serving the college on this site have evolved in a some what unplanned formation over the years; a mixture of adapted of late nineteenth century family residences and more modern linking sections of slight architectural importance. Therefore we are pleased to see that the proposed rehabilitation centre will give a distinctive architectural anchor to the main façade along Parkwood Road.
The two storied structure would be generally contemporary in design but with plausible traditional restraints. The main hall would be lighted by spacious modern windows as would the smaller examination rooms either side of the adjoining corridor. The principal façade facing Parkwood Road would be part close boarded and encompass symmetrical fenestration (casement and modern sash windows) with a wide hipped roof above. Having carefully examined the proposals, we can find no major fault in the design. Consequently the Society thinks that since this application does not in any way conflict with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be allowed.
16-20 a Belle Vue Road Ref. No. 7-2021-20591-C
This is an application to construct two, two and a half storey, blocks of flats with three bungalows behind, on the site of four modern bungalows fronting Belle Vue Road, Southbourne. The built footprint of both flat blocks would be considerably larger than those of the existing buildings stretching, apart from a central driveway, from one boundary to the other. The design of both blocks would resemble that of a traditional block of mansion flats from the late Nineteenth Century; there would be distinctive two storey bay windows with partial gables merging into prominent, complex, hipped roofs containing elaborate pedimented dormers. The rear and other dimensions would be different interpretations of the principal elevation. Fenestration throughout would be generally symmetrical – with sash and French windows with upper dimensions facing extended Juliet balconies. The family residences to the rear would be in traditional, post war bungalow style with large hipped roofs and two to four light casement windows with upper divisions.
The Society has been led to understand that in this scheme, the provision of flats in two blocks was put forward because in earlier unsuccessful applications the Planning Department did not take kindly to the original idea of a single, much larger structure for most of the accommodation. We have sympathy with local opinion which still thinks that too many people would be living in far too small an area if the scheme went ahead. It is thought that the size of the two smaller blocks is still excessive and that there should be greater provision for family residences and private open spaces where children can play which we agree with.
However the Society feels that it is possible that one day a scheme might be brought forward that may just please the residents and Council – it could be similar to what is now proposed but of a better design and lesser scale. Clothing a flat development in the guise of historicist forms is now a well developed ploy of building entrepreneurs. Obviously we most sincerely hope that such pressures do not descend upon 16-20 a Belle Vue Road; but we would seriously suggest that local residents discuss very soon what would be the absolute maximum level of new building encroachment, if any, that would be visually and socially tolerated in this part of Southbourne.
Therefore under the circumstances, the Society suggests that since this application certainly does not abide by the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be put on refused.
69 A Southcote Road Ref. No. 7-2021-6176-A
This is an application to demolish a redundant workshop behind a late nineteenth century two storey house and to erect a one storey office building and a three storey block of two semi-detached houses one behind the other in its place to the rear. The office accommodation would be placed almost immediately behind the existing house and the house block a short distance further on at the far end of the site.
The new commercial building, with carport, would have a traditional hipped roof while the main south east elevation of the semi-detached houses would consist of two car ports on the ground floor, very large modern, triple windows on the first and second floors and capped by a flat roof.
Irrespective of the modest structures that would surround this accommodation, the Society is not best pleased by the very conventional and unimaginative modernist design of the principal façade. Moreover, even as we appreciate that such new developments have gradually replaced the crowded and redundant industrial premises that had grown up behind the Victorian houses on the north side of Southcote Road in recent years, we find what is now proposed, far too varied and crowded for the limited dimensions of the site. On practical, but also on privacy grounds, the Society strongly thinks that what might be built to the rear of this site must either be wholly residential or wholly commercial – it cannot be both. Therefore, given the rather special spatial circumstances of the north side of Southcote Road, we recommend the construction of residential property without any commercial attachment. We also suggest that the proposed, very gaping windows om the main façade be improved by more integrated and elegant fenestration – and that the space originally reserved for the office building be made int an agreeable, landscaped open space. Consequently the Society feels that since this application does not fulfil properly the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused.
9 Tower Road Ref. No. 7-2021-22736-J
This is an application to construct a two storey extension to an existing late nineteenth century/early twentieth century, family house in order to create a 15 bed house of multiple occupation. The building is situated in an enclosed space surrounded by houses of similar date and is reached by a narrow way from Tower Road, Boscombe. The property lies beside the main London-Weymouth railway line. The new section would be an extension of the existing balanced façade which has two slight projections and gables. The main south façade would now be lengthened with two new modern casement windows on both floors and across the entire rear elevation. There would also be dormers above in the extended, pitched roof.
The Society is strongly of the opinion that this extension would considerably degrade the present agreeably visual appearance of the existing house. Furthermore, we think that the site, simply is far too small to warrant a further extension. We ask the Planning Department most earnestly to evolve a policy that prevents the regular attempts of irresponsible developers to degrade historical residential neighbourhoods in this fashion
Consequently we have concluded that since this proposal in no way enhances the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused.
28 Clowes Avenue Ref. No. 7-2021-27525-C
This is an application to demolish an existing structure and to construct a spacious chalet bungalow on a somewhat larger built footprint, similar to adjacent properties that were created when this neighbourhood was laid out near Hengistbury Head in the mid Twentieth Century. The principal elevation would encompass vertical casement windows either side of a distinctive, two storied light well (for the main entrance and staircase) with a garage at the corner. The pitched roof above would contain three distinctive pedimented dormers.
Although the Society is generally satisfied with the overall design, we think the lightwell is inappropriate in respect to the appearance of the adjacent chalet bungalows. In every case the size of windows is restrained by the dimensions of the particular floor on which they are situated; this gives a balanced sense of visual perspective to the townscape of this road. Therefore we suggest that the double window on the front façade be replaced by two separate ones.
And so because the Society is of the opinion that this application falls short of full compliance with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, we suggest a decision is deferred for further discussion.
21 Hinton Road Ref. No. 7-2021-2533-Z
This is an application to add two more stories to create more flats, above a former office block already converted to residential use. The existing, symmetrical fenestration would be replicated throughout in order to make a larger block of six storeys above which would rise a new hipped roof with window lights. In view of the general average height ( 5/6 storeys ) of modern buildings in this part of Hinton Road, the Society is reasonably happy with what is proposed. However we note that this planning application was put under forward under the so called ‘right to rise’ new planning policy; a vivid example of how private and state pressures are increasingly attempting to circumvent, established planning practices, which would be able in different circumstances, to have a negative effect on established townscapes. (See later critique for Chester House, 8 Portchester Place) . Thus having considered this application, the Society think that since it fulfills the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be allowed.
Mayfield Road – off Coronation Avenue Ref. No. 7-2021-23856-B
This is an application to construct two, two storey family houses on the site of Sanserra House, a redundant retail structure of no architectural significance. The two houses would be designed in the form of a small suburban property and each would encompass a prominent, two storey bay window with ornamental gable merging into a distinctive hipped roof. Although some local opinion appears to be in favour of a bungalow, the Society feel that, irrespective of certain privacy considerations which we think can eventually be solved; what is proposed is more compatible with the general appearance of the surrounding neighbourhood which was built during the early Twentieth Century and is typical of the later artisan areas of north Bournemouth after c.1880. We would however recommend that the size of the built footprints be reduced so as to increase the dimensions of the rather small gardens. Therefore the Society recommends that because this application does not completely satisfy the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion.
18 Methuen Road Ref. No. 7-2021-1482-L
This is an application to construct a quite small chalet bungalow at the rear end of a redeveloped historic site which now contained a modern block of five flats. On a square shaped footprint, the new building would be crowned by a miniature hipped roof with dormers; the principal elevation would contain a porched entrance and a three light window with upper divisions. Apart from a pair of French windows all fenestration in the property would follow that of the front elevation. Irrespective of the reasonable design, the Society observes that here is another instance of a new residence being attempted to be crammed into an already developed historic site which was never meant to sustain additional buildings. We ask the Planning Department, in order to preserve the quality of the established residential neighbourhoods of the town, to come down very hard against such practices. And so since this application is in no way compatible with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, the Society thinks it should be refused.
760-762 Wimborne Road Ref. No. 7-2021-4973-G
This is an application to convert the existing unused shop into a flat. The present shop façade is quite extensive and well balanced; it extends from the main section along Wimborne Road on to Ensbury Park Road.
The Society has already made it known that it strongly disapproves of the creeping residentialisation of existing shops . We think such premises were never designed to achieve the peace and tranquility that is offered by a house or flat in a purpose designed neighbourhood. In this case not only is the existing appearance and busy location of the premises eminently unsuitable for domestic tranquillity; the very banal replacement windows on the ground floor would create a wholly negative effect on the visual impact of the building in respect to adjacent properties.
The Society has therefore decided that since this application in no way complies with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused.
49-51 Old Christchurch Road Ref. No. 7-2021-6334-AO
This is an application to convert the former HSBC bank building into a so called “adult gaming centre” The building which is listed, is ornamented by extremely elaborate classical, architectural decoration and was built in the then Italianate commercial style which had become almost universal for growing central areas of expanding urban areas in the developing world by the late Nineteenth Century. No changes are planned to the outside appearance of the building but internal changes to the interior would be removed in order to modernise and restore the original dimensions of the rooms.
The Society is fully aware that if the evolved architectural quality of central areas of towns and cities are to be preserved in view of the reduction of retail use due to the `internet; then new purposes must be found for these well established buildings. We therefore feel that provided that proper administrative arrangements can be worked out, then the somewhat unusual change of use in this bank building should be tried. Consequently the Society has concluded that because this application generally respects the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be granted.
Chester House, 6 Portchester Place Ref. No. 7-2021-17737-C
This is an application to heighten an existing three storey block of flats ( with a gabled and hipped
roof ) by the construction of two extra floors on top of the south east section of the existing building.
This would entail an increase in height over two fifths of the existing south west and north east facades using the same form of fenestration and with a new, separate gable and hipped roof construction above.
The Society is very much against this new form of extension and also the planning changes that could more easily make such building operations possible. We condemn strongly the arbitrary changes in building height `on the south east part of the block; the new work would severely disrupt the original quite well balanced design of the original elevation which was never designed for such abrupt aesthetic alterations. Indeed the changed structure would exert a considerable negative impact on the general character of adjacent properties.
The Society feels that the supporting statement makes a wholly fallacious distinction between small changes in the basic design structure (as in this case) and major changes in the overall design – what ever they are supposed to be. We are of the strong opinion that any relatively significant changes in the external design of any building creates fundamental transformations of shape that relate to the entire edifice. Thus it is quite obvious to us that this wholly false design differentiation is simply a rather dubious way of disguising what is fundamentally a considerably flawed planning proposal – merely to extract greater remuneration without any thought of visual impact.
The Society thinks that here is a most blatant example of what could happen if the less stringent planning proposals in respect to height extensions, proposed by the government, are allowed to pass. Therefore we most earnestly hope that the Planning Department will evolve policies that will prevent what is attempting to happen with this scheme, from taking place again. Consequently the Society is of the opinion that since this application in no way conforms to the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused.
Former Grand Cinema , Poole Road Ref. No. 7-2021-5577-I
This is an application to create comprehensive gymnastic facilities in a listed building that is already being used for a similar purpose. The edifice was constructed in 1922 in an elaborate, Italianate classical style. It still has an elaborate Art Deco iron canopy and quite distinctive entablatures and a sculptural composition at the top of the entrance façade.
Generally speaking, the Society applauds this serious intention to create health facilities – which while modernising the equipment, will also respect, as far as practical, the Art Deco features of the original auditorium of the 1920’s. We see nothing incompatible with the provision of exercise facilities withing quite decorative surroundings; such a combination was quite common during the Victorian era.
The main exterior changes would be the substitution of better designed doors for the main entrance, to replace those of poor quality that appeared during the time when the cinema was used as a bingo hall. The refurbished main auditorium would contain heavy weight machines and two office pods; there would be changing rooms on the first floor and lighter exercise machines at the highest level.
The auditorim would be returned to its original appearance by the removal of recent internal additions; the original colour scheme would be recreated and the surviving original murals in side frames would be preserved and restored. The original dimensions of the entrance foyer would come back, together with a café and the original plan of the smaller rooms (the changing rooms) at first floor level would also be recreated.
Generally speaking the Society approves of these changes, however we question the need for a so called “studio box “ to contain the lighter exercise machines on the balcony level. Such an intrusion could easily reduce the overall decorative Art Deco effect at the rear of the auditorium.
We are therefore hopeful that the goodwill shown towards this project by the Twentieth Century Society and the British Theatres Trust will eventually solve this problem.
Therefore the Society believes that since this application does not yet quite fulfil the town scape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion.
Former Highway Depot, Cambridge Road Ref. No. 7-2021-4330-L
This is an application to construct a, modernist, large residential complex of varying height containing 100 flats on the site of the large corporation depot of Cambridge Road and Wessex Way in west Bournemouth. It would be situated close to the Cambridge Road roundabout and the main entrance would be from Cambridge Road. There would be one tower of 13 storeys; one tower of 8 storeys; a linking section of 6 storeys and a small northern wing of 4 storeys.
Both towers would have a very distinctive elliptical shape whereby the common balcony balustrades would play a significant architectural role in defining the overall design of the structures. Fenestration of glass panels and French windows would be regularly positioned across the towers. Windows in the two lower, straight blocks would be more clustered together and less symmetrical.
The Society thinks that what is proposed is a very modernist concept for adjacent neighbourhoods which still exhibit a considerable traditionalist, architecture ambience. The choice of such a design can be justified if what is constructed is seen as the missing section of a wider, extended architectural concept right across central Bournemouth. This would consist of the following three inter related complexes: the collection high rise offices and flat blocks around Richmond Hill; the new flats blocks that could be erected at Cambridge Road and the other office developments erected at County Gates, in Poole. But even if these three distinctive built elements could be seen to frame the older Victorian neighbourhoods in between, we think they could still create considerable aesthetic disruption in respect to the relatively adjacent historic areas along Norwich Road West, Suffolk Road and Crescent Road. Possibly less modernist orientated blocks of flats would fit in more comfortably with the existing, more traditionally designed blocks of flats on the opposite side of that part of Cambridge Road leading up to the roundabout on Poole Hill.
The Society appreciates that both planning solutions are possible but if the modern is adopted, we strongly suggest on aesthetic and perspective grounds that no other major site be redeveloped in modernist form in this general area of west Bournemouth save for the three aforementioned areas.
Therefore under the circumstances, we would suggest that since this application is not yet fully compatible with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion.
Bournemouth Hospital Ref. No. 7-2021-5913-ET
This is an application, already referred to in a previous Planning Critique from 2020, to make alterations and extension to create a seven storey extension to the existing two storey, low level hospital buildings – in order to create a new main entrance, new emergency departments, and new women’s and children’s facilities. The new main block would have a very modernist design in the form of a plain rectangular block with horizontal strip lighting. Substantial, two storey foyer-entrances from the ground floor would be in conventional glass and steel formats.
In view of the exceptional importance of creating exactly the right kind of structures that are the most efficient in treating patients, the Society feels it would not be appropriate in these circumstances to criticize too strongly, the design that is proposed. However we would simply hope that the unique and low density visual appearance of the greater part of the hospital will be kept for a long time to come.