PLANNING APPLICATIONS RECEIVED BY BOURNEMOUTH PLANNING DEPARTMENT DURING JUNE 2020 – A CRITIQUE BY JOHN SOANE, BUILT ENVIRONMENT CONSULTANT TO BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY
95-191 Holdenhurst Road Ref. No. 7-2020-3703-M
This is an application to construct a 15/17 storey building consisting of fire stories of commercial space with space for 334 apartments above. The new structure would take the place of an existing, low rise, later twentieth century commercial building of negligible architectural significance. The built footprint would be in the form of a large letter H. The front would be in the form of a synthesis of two massive, rectangular, vertical blocks rising from a kind of five storey horizontal plinth. The central linking section and the rear façade towards Oxford Road would be stepped down and contain fewer stories to enable this part of the building to integrate more easily with the existing townscape at this location.
The Society is of the opinion that the front fenestration on the plinth storeys – principally in the form of very tall, vertical windows integrated across two floors – would mitigate and balance the pronounced horizontality of this section of the façade while above the differing sizes of the regular positioning of narrow vertical windows on all floors, would considerably reduce the vertical impact of the upper double tower shape of the proposed structure.
Further, we think that such relative sensibility of architectural design would enable the new building to be incorporated reasonably easily into the existing range of modernist commercial structures that stretches from the St. Swithuns/St. Paul Roads’ junction with Holdenhurst Road towards the Lansdowne. The highest built element of the proposed structure is balanced by a building of equal height further along Holdenhurst Road. Indeed the Society feels that the new proposal would help complete an integrated series of large modernistic structures within the designated tall building area of Bournemouth to produce an ambience of the relatively restrained and restricted down town section of Los Angeles – a metropolitan area with which Greater Bournemouth has been superficially compared. Certainly from a careful reading of the very well written design report, it is obvious to us that here presented is a competent synthesis of the more varied sized elements of modern Anglo American architectural forms with the more integrative, classical built shapes of contemporary German design, found in Berlin.
Therefore under the circumstances, since this application appears to satisfy the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, the Society suggests that it be allowed.
9 Tower Road (off Ashley Road) Ref. No 7-2020-22736-I
This is an application to build an extension to an existing house in order to create a HMO with 11 bed spaces. The site is near the main railway line at Ashley Road and approached by a very narrow way from Tower Road. The late nineteenth century house has a symmetrical principal façade with several string courses and two small barge boarded gables over the upper windows. The extension would be to one side in the form of an additional bay with two rectangular windows.
The Society feel that not only is the site simply too small for the proposed extension, the enlargement would aesthetically degrade the existing principal façade. In addition local opinion feels that there are already too many HMOs in the area where an increasing number of drug rehabilitation patients are threatening the quality of the family life of the area. Also the construction of new properties has rendered the provision of adequate parking facilities totally inadequate.
Under such circumstances we consider what is proposed is not suitable for the site and therefore since this proposal it appropriate under the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, we think it should be refused.
16 Vale Road (off Southcote Road) Ref. No. 7-2020-15194-D
This is an application to construct, according to the plans , two medium sized, three storey blocks of flats on a fairly spacious corner site between Southcote and Vale Roads.
Both blocks would be designed in a quasi traditionalist/modernist style. The larger block along Southcote Road would be in two sections each topped by hipped roofs with casement windows on to Southcote Road and mainly larger ( including French ) windows on the internal elevation. Both sections would be linked to each other by a prominent, glazed, entrance hall. The smaller block along Vale Road would be generally of similar design.
The Society finds the general appearance of this application rather neutral and insipid – as if the building cannot make up its mind whether to follow more precisely a traditionalist or a modernist path. Moreover local opinion fears that this development would increase parking difficulties and worsen the existing social problems of the area.
We think that if flat development is really necessary at this site, two blocks are too many ; the retention of the larger block alone with an additional flat would be a better solution. However we also think that the Southcote Road façade should be redesigned in a more integrated and less overtly modernist manner to harmonise with the adjacent townscape in Southcote Road.
Consequently, since this application does not fully comply with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, the Society suggests it is deferred for further improvement.
129-139 Princess Road; 8-14 Prince of Wales Road Ref. No. 7-2020-14899-E
This is an application by BCP Council to construct four large blocks of between 6 and 10 storeys in height, to contain social housing in the form of 121, mainly one bedroom flats and emergency accommodation facilities on the site of several demolished late nineteenth century buildings on a long fairly narrow site between Wessex Way and Princess/Prince of Wales Roads.
Although local opinion has expressed fears that the relatively expensive retail facilities in Westbourne would make this site unsuitable for social housing development, the Society feels does not support this contention. We note that the site is deeply wedged in between Wessex Way and the rear of assorted low and high rise buildings of varied use in central Westbourne and surrounded by a thick belt of mature vegetation. Thus the area is quite detached from the rest of Westbourne and its physical characteristics make it not easily conducive to conventional low density, private residential development. Consequently the Society feels that social development of the proposed nature is probably the best solution. Indeed there are two, reasonably priced supermarkets within a reasonable distance of the site.
The facilities would be set out in the form of four blocks – the two outer ones up to eight storeys high and the two central ones up to 10 storeys. Each block would be designed in the form of an irregular, elongated rectangle, each separated by garden courtyards and with the two central blocks linked by one story structures. There would be various projections on two facades and the top two floors of the two central blocks would be recessed to form a double pent house effect -as would the top three floors of the block in Prince of Wales Road. Fenestration throughout the new structures would be regularly positioned in the form of vertical casement windows.
Generally speaking, taking into consideration the uber context of this development, the Society is reasonably satisfied with the general design. However we feel that to prevent possible future tendences of overcrowding, we suggest that either the central two blocks are reduced by two or three storeys or only three blocks are built on the site with a somewhat larger number of flat units being provided in the central block.
Therefore we have concluded that since this application does not fully satisfy the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion.
2A Fitzharris Avenue Ref. No. 7-2020-7541-AC
This is an application to build a pair of semi-detached family houses and one detached family house on the site of two existing, twentieth century houses that have been joined together to form a care home.
Both properties would be constructed in a quasi traditionalist style. The built footprint of the larger house would have approximately the same square shape of the original structure with one projection and be crowned by a distinctive pitched roof of four gables. Fenestration in the form of modern casement windows would be regularly positioned on each façade. The smaller house would also have a pitched roof with one gable above a Juliet balcony and a small porch over the main entrance.
The Society accepts that the restrained design of the proposed structure would be appropriate in respect to the adjacent townscape. However bearing in mind the competent appearance of the existing properties on the site, we would suggest that the general restoration of the original shape and conversion of these buildings back into family use might be a more appropriate solution if financially possible.
The Society has therefore concluded that since this application does not fully abide by the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further improvement.
128-130 Old Christchurch Road/3/5 Firvale Road Ref. No. 7-2020-107-V
This is an application to create an extension along Fir Vale Road at the same height as an existing building that was constructed on the corner of Old Christchurch Road and Fir Vale Road during the 1930’s in the then fashionable International Moderne architectural style.
The new extension would be of five storeys with an indented penthouse storey above would be mainly for commercial use with retail outlets on the ground floor. The design of the principal façade would echo the adjacent structure and be in the form of a very austere concrete framework in which would be incorporated horizontal strips of vertical window panels of varying length creating a relatively balanced ensemble.
The Society feel that although the construction is very modernist in feeling, the distinctive architectural forms that have been chosen in conjunction with the presence of large scale 1960’s modernist architecture in this particular area of Fir Vale Road, would allow the new structure to be relatively easily incorporated into the adjacent urban context.
Therefore we have decided that since this application fulfils the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan it should be allowed.
15 Cheshire Drive/20 Wilkinson Drive (Townsend Estate) Ref. No. 7-2020-84667-AO
This is an application to build one two storey block of four terraced houses and one three storey block of 9 flats, all with rather small bedrooms, on existing open space at the south eastern end of the Townsend Estate near Wessex Way. Both structures would be constructed in a very modernised, quasi tradition form that is often reserved for public social housing developments. The plain facades would be lit by regularly positioned, casement windows with hipped roofs above and some French windows on the larger flat block.
The Society is not especially impressed with the quality of the designs which still seem to owe rather too much to the insipid housing projects from the 1960’s. However the main reason that we think this project is not appropriate for the site is the exceptional strength of feeling expressed against the venture by 17 emails by local residents. The main point of issue is that the proposed site is a much appreciated and heavily used green space near many households – there being always people walking and playing there from school children to elderly people from morn to night. According to these emails, other open spaces are a considerable distance away and it is also thought that more appropriate sites for the new buildings could be found further afield. Finally there were worries about lack of privacy, car parking and loss of privacy.
Therefore after considerable thought, the Society feels that since this application fails to uphold the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused.
82 Richmond Wood Road Ref. No. 7-2020-27375
This is an application to extend an existing late nineteenth century family residence to create two separate dwelling houses within the rear garden of the site. The two storey extension would replicate the stylistic elements of the original property but with the use of modern casement and French windows. From a close examination of the plans, the Society strongly feels that the development would result in very poorly positioned accommodation and overcrowding with the two houses bunched up at one end of the site with virtually no privacy between the two properties.
We observe that here is one more example of an attempt to extend in a most unsatisfactory fashion, an existing property on a restricted site within an historic residential neighbourhood of the town. Therefore irrespective of the fact that such planning alterations have already taken place in other parts of Richmond Park, we feel that such practices should be fought off in order to preserve the original spacious and healthy lay out of the area
Consequently the Society has concluded that because this application in any way upholds the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused.
18-22a Studland Road Ref. No. 7-2020-2129-AL
This is an application to construct two large three to four storey blocks containing 45 flats on the site of two houses of no architectural significance from the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries respectively and an adjacent cleared area.
Each block would be designed in the form of a large, late nineteenth century mansion block in imitation traditionalist style in a general rectangular shape. Both principal facades would encompass three prominent projections with half timbered gables above , the north western corner of the building being lower and where the projection there is more asymmetrically positioned. Distinctive hipped roofs above contain to the front large dormer windows. Fenestration on the principal facades would be in the form of varying numbers of parallel sash windows with upper divisions, incorporating French windows on the first and second floors where communal balconies in the form of imitation iron railings would be placed. The rear elevations towards Alum Chine of the two blocks would be simpler variations without projections of the design of the principal elevations.
The Society feels that as a design for a residential block per se, what is offered is competent enough as far as it goes. However seen in the particular urban context of Studland Road, we think that the blocks are simply too large and bulky to be aesthetically compatible with the general scale of the original and more recently built properties along this road. We suggest that at least one storey should be removed and that the dimensions of the built foot print should be reduced by one third in both directions. Indeed a similar scheme to the present one was turned down last year, mainly on account of its excessive size. The Society is also of the opinion that the chosen building style of the proposal, late nineteenth century historicist , is incompatible with the general character of the surrounding townscape which exhibits architectural creations in Arts and Crafts, Art Deco and generally restrained Modernist styles. In addition we are in sympathy with local opinion (15 emails) which fears that the rear boundary of the blocks would appear too prominent through the existing trees when viewed from Alum Chine and that provision for extra car spaces would be completely inadequate.
Consequently, taking everything into consideration, we have decided that since this application does not abide by the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan it should be refused.
Bournemouth Hospital, Deanleigh Road Ref. No. 7-2020-5913-EQ
This is an outline application, considerably to extend the general medical facilities of Bournemouth Hospital which would also include a new pathology building, a new care home, an ancillary plant and equipment store, a new multi-storey car park, alterations to existing roads and footpaths and improved landscaping.
The principal addition to the hospital estate would be a 6 to 7 storey, rectangular modernist block containing extra space for the principal medical departments and a new A and E facility. The general appearance of each façade and the associated fenestration, would not be that different from any other institutional building, but it would offer a considerable visual contrast to the generally low rise, courtyard orientated lay out of the remainder of the original, adjacent hospital buildings. The other changes to the built structure of the hospital would be the pathology building at the eastern corner of the site, the care home near the private nursing home and the lake and the new multi-storey parking extension near the existing car park. But if the latter is built, some kind of electric train will be needed to transport the car visitors the considerable distance to the hospital.
The Society fully appreciates the need for further medical facilities to be built at Bournemouth Hospital . However we are wary of the fact that the main block shaped extension is in very sharp contrast to the low density, integrated visual appearance of the greater part of the adjacent hospital. We very much hope that further extensions to the hospital do not seriously compromise the distinctive visual perspective of the hospital buildings which is such a feature of the establishment.
The application brought about an unprecedented 317 emails, of which many were very much in favour of the new hospital improvements; but there were also a fair number of messages that deplored the expensive extension of facilities at Bournemouth Hospital – principally because with the eventual closure of the A and E department at Poole Hospital, it would take much longer in an emergency from West Dorset to reach Bournemouth. The re planning of medical facilities between Poole and Bournemouth Hospitals is not a field about which the Civic Society is competent to give a judgement. However we are able to say that in our opinion, the construction of a new entry road from the direction of Ringwood direct to the hospital ( now proceeding ) will not only speed up emergency runs from west Hampshire and North Dorset, but also by easing the traffic along Castle Lane should considerably ease emergency journies through the dense Bournemouth traffic from West Dorset.
Therefore after proper consideration, the Society has decided that since this application is a highly important enhancement to the medical facilities if the BCP Council area, it should be allowed.