PLANNING APPLICATIONS RECEIVED BY BOURNEMOUTH PLANNING DEPARTMENT DURING JULY 2017 – A CRITIQUE BY JOHN SOANE, BUILT ENVIRONMENT CONSULTANT, BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY
Bournemouth and Poole College, Meyrick Road Ref. No. 7-2017-784-CA
This is an application to replace a variety of unplanned and eclectic structures on the north east side of the site which have come about over the decades and are of no architectural value what so ever.
The new buildings, generally of three storeys, would take the form of two rectangular blocks; the larger one facing north/south and abutting Christchurch Road; the other smaller one further south and facing the approach road on the site from Meyrick Road.
The buildings would be used for educational, administrative and accommodation purposes and would be designed in a conventional, modernist form – in which, with the exception of the glass doors on the ground floor – strips of vertical windows would alternate with considerable areas of glass; sections of which would be enclosed by prominent concrete collars.
The Society is not entirely surprised to observe what we consider to be an exceptionally bland design in these circumstances. It seems to be that buildings marked for official and/or utilitarian use and that are state funded, seem to be the product of a less creative level of architectural form than other structures in different situations. We would therefore strongly urge that a more integrated and balanced modernist design would be a more dignified setting for the educational work of the college.
In particular the Society wishes to point out the inadequate visual quality of the north facade of the larger block which would be visible from Christchurch Road. If built the present design would seriously compromise the contextual setting of the adjacent very fine Edwardian clock tower building – the original college structure built in neo-renaissance style. This aesthetic problem has already been pointed out in quite an objective way in a letter to the Bournemouth Planning Department by Historic England (27/7/17)
Under the circumstances, we feel that because this application does not fully comply with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion. (Policy 4.19, i, ii, and iii )
New University Buildings – 13 -19 Oxford Road/35 Holdenhurst Road and land adjacent to the corner of Saint Swithun’s Road and Christchurch Road Ref. No. 7-2017-2187-X
The structures would consist of 153 live-work accommodation elements for students and considerable tertiary teaching facilities for university courses.
This application, which is a very substantial development, is part of the on going extensive expansion of Bournemouth University to create a major campus in the Lansdowne/ Holdenhurst Road area of the town.
Quite apart from the St. Swithins/Christchurch Road section which is now almost complete, the planned new buildings will occupy a large site between Telecom House and the site of the former Oxford House between Oxford Road and Holdenhurst Road. There would be two principal elements, each occupying spacious rectangular built footprints. The taller block would be in the form of a lower section of 12 storeys in which the principal facade would be mainly of vertical glass panels between blue divisions and the eastern side elevation would consist of regular lines of vertical modern windows. Above would be four further storeys supported on short columns forming an upper loggia, and where the elevational treatment of the facades – with the exception of a slight variation of the shape of the side windows – would follow that of the lower stories.
Next to this structure would be a lower block of 13 storeys with a somewhat more integrated general design; the principal elevation would consist of rows of regularly spaced, vertical openings and with a distinctive string course separating every two storeys.
Given the already existing considerable number of commercial and educational, modernist buildings in the Holdenhurst – Lansdowne area the Society accepts that new extensions to the Bournemouth university campus must be constructed in a generally modern style. However we think that this stipulation should not be used to allow development that is excessively over large and unsympathetic to the general townscape of Bournemouth. Thus while the Society appreciates that a considerable section of Holdenhurst Road from the Lansdowne to the Bournemouth Station Roundabout may now be looked upon as a piece of linear, extended modern urban sculpture (similar in some aspects to downtown Los Angeles), we feel strongly that the taller of the two blocks is excessively high and as such would have a most destabilising impact on the aesthetic perspective of this entire section of Holdenhurst road.
Therefore the Society suggests that the top four storeys of the taller block be removed – and also possibly the topmost two stories of the 12 storey element below. In this way some pleasing variation of height at a more human level between the two massive blocks would be achieved. Finally we would request the Planning Department to be wary of granting planning permission to excessively massive structures which are “metropolitan” in scale and more suited to the City of London than a predominantly horizontally orientated garden city resort such as Bournemouth.
Under the circumstances, the Society has decided that since this application does not fulfil all the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion. (Policy 4.19,i,ii, iii )
59-61 Saint Alban’s Avenue Ref. No. 7-2017-4571-T
This is an application to construct two, 2/3 storey blocks of 7 flats on a double plot at present occupied by a large care home on a road that was developed in the form of family houses on spacious plots during the Twentieth Century.
The proposal would consist of two structures designed in modernised Arts and Craft Style separated by a central drive way to parking areas in the rear. The built foot print would take up less space than the built foot print of the existing care home. The principal architectural elements of the principal elevations of the two buildings would be two storeyed windows ending in gables that would be incorporated into prominent hipped roofs with gables. The remaining vertical windows/French windows on the facade would be integrated with well designed balconies.
Considering the considerable scope of traditional house design along St. Albans Avenue, and the exceptional dimensions of the existing care home, the Society is of the opinion that the general mass, form and style of the proposed buildings are more or less acceptable under the circumstances. However in 16 letters send in by local residents, fears were expressed that even if the architectural appearance of the proposal had been improved, the granting of this application would set a precedent for further flat developments which would eventually degrade the friendly atmosphere of the family houses along St. Albans Avenue. There were also worries that the size of the flats were below national standards leading to too high a housing density, loss of privacy, excessive noise and inadequate parking provisions.
We realise that balancing the need and size of the further provision of flats with keeping an appropriate number of family homes – while at the same time ensuring that the visual qualities of well established residential neighbourhoods in Bournemouth are properly maintained, is always difficult. Our solution here would be to construct two blocks of flats very similar to what is proposed but with a smaller number of larger apartments.
The Society has therefore concluded that since this application does not fully satisfy the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further consideration. (Policy 4.19.i, ii, iii )
6 Nelson Road Ref. No. 7-2017-15040-I
This is the latest application to construct two pairs of semi detached houses on back land approached from Nelson Road and quite near the train washing facilities opposite.
The overall design loosely follows the ambience of a small, early twentieth century suburban villa – complete with prominent pitched roof, gables and dormers. However the architectural dress is modernist: the windows are generally large and rectangular ( including fenestration across the entire width of the gables ) and the ground floor entrances and adjacent horizontal windows are partially surrounded by concrete framing in the modern idiom.
The Society think that the mass and form of the new structures is appropriate to the site; furthermore, in view of the almost totally enclosed nature of the back land position, the visual appearance of what is proposed is not of such exceptional importance. Nevertheless, we feel that the rather chunky architectural detail – especially on the principal facades, could be softened and made more linear and less menacing in appearance.
The Society has therefore concluded that because this application does not fulfil adequately the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further consideration.
11a Southcote Road Ref. No. 7-2017-788-H
This is an application to construct what amounts to 15 student sized live-bed cubicles in two three storey blocks containing 8 and seven units respectively, on backland between the rear of Southcote Road and the industrial units on the edge of the London railway line not far from Bournemouth station.
The two blocks would face each other – the rear and side elevations being perfectly plain white walls with a smaller penthouse story above; the interior facade containing spiral staircase entrances to the upper units which would be provided with windows and glass balconies.
The Society is convinced that this is the latest of several attempts in the Holdenhurst/Lansdown area to offer cheap but not that adequate accommodation to the increasing number of students who will be working at the new Lansdown campus of Bournemouth University. We feel that since proper student accommodation is likely to be provided by hostels fully approved by the university, unsuitable applications proporting to offer the same facilities should be strongly discouraged. Furthermore the site is totally unsuitable for further development- it being back land and wedged between an already fully developed late nineteenth century urban area and industrial units.
Therefore the Society has concluded that since this application in no way satisfies the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. ( Policy 4.19, i, ii, iii )