PLANNING APPLICATIONS RECEIVED BY BOURNEMOUTH PLANNING DEPARTMENT DURING MAY 2016 – A CRITIQUE BY JOHN SOANE, BUILT ENVIRONMENT CONSULTANT, BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY
17 Stourwood Avenue Ref. No. 7-2016-26241
This is an application to build a three to four story block of 17 flats on the site of a substantial early twentieth century family villa built in Arts and Crafts style and similar in appearance to traditionally designed properties in the general vicinity that exhibit brick walls and hipped roofs.
The structure which would take up a considerable area of the spacious site would be of modernist design and consist of three stories and a recessed penthouse floor at the top. The design of the principal elevation would comprise a non-symmetrical concrete grid including frontal supports and a prominently projecting concrete pillar towards the central part of the facade. The elevation would consist mainly of vertical glass panels – together with glass balconies – and various strips of vertical weatherboarding which would distributed across the elevation in an irregular way.
Having carefully examined this proposal, the Society has come to the conclusion that the design is really no different from a fair number of unintegrated, rather uninspiring schemes – much influenced by the fashionable conventions of the neo-modernist style – that have appeared in the area in recent years. We feel it has nothing in common with most of the adjacent properties and if built it would have a negative impact on the general aesthetic qualities of the surrounding neighbourhood. Consequently the Society simply cannot accept the assertion made in the design statement that the proposed building would fit harmoniously into the established character of development of West Southbourne. We also note that up to eight letters from local residents echo widespread fears over the alien intrusion of this new block of flats in relation to the existing character of the area.
The Society respectfully reminds the Planning Department that several applications for the construction of inappropriate structures along the Southbourne Overcliff have been turned down within recent years. However although we are not against development on this site with modern pretensions – we strongly feel that the massing, the spatial structure and the architectural form of the elevation should respect to a reasonable degree the existing visual ambience of the neighbourhood.
Therefore under the circumstances, because we feel that this application in no way respects the townscape conventions of the Bournemouth Local Plan, we suggest that it be refused. ( 4.19, i, ii, and iii )
2 West Hill Road Ref. No.7-2016-577-P
This application is for the construction of a three story block of ten flats that would be built on the site of a small, early twentieth century brick house, built in the Arts and Crafts style. This structure is next to a much larger building in the same style now used as offices and opposite a considerable number of high density structures constructed in historicist styles that were fashionable in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.The site lies in the Poole Road and West Cliff Conservation Areas.
The latest scheme follows an earlier one that was refused in February 2016 because it was considered too bulky for the site. The built foot print of the one now under consideration is still considerably larger than the present structure and bears the general characteristics of a neo modernist flat block design.
The main elements of the structure consist of three separately designated but interlocking, rectangular wall sections where some small rectangular windows are inserted; but in which the greater proportion of the principal facade consists of vertical glass panels ( with glass balconies to the upper floors ) which are partially framed by irregularly positioned, concrete collars.
The Society accepts that in different spatial circumstances, the general competence of the submitted design would be quite appropriate. However after proper consideration we feel that this latest proposal – by reason of its uncompromising and austere asymmetricality – is no more complimentary than the rejected scheme towards the greater part of the existing townscape. If built we think that the new building would considerably disrupt the present generally harmonious and visually congenial appearance of this fine late nineteenth century road.
At the same time, while we take note from the Design Statement that a new building with some modernist pretensions might be acceptable for this site, we would suggest a far more sensitive contemporary design that respects the basic forms of the older original buildings in the vicinity would be more appropriate. Indeed we think it should be noted that the full impact of the recent, adjacent modern extensions to St Michael’s school, is considerably softened by the high, late nineteenth century wall that separates these new structures from West Hill Road.
Finally we should like to remind the Planning Department that other unsatisfactory planning applications for sites along West Hill Road between Poole Hill and Hahnamann Road have been turned down in the past year or two; therefore we very much hope that whatever eventually may be put up at 2 West Hill Road, will properly enhance the visual context of this visually significant part of the West Cliff.
Accordingly the Society feels that since this application does not fulfil the Conservation Policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. ( 4.4,i,ii and iii )
41/45 Poole Hill Ref.No.7-2016-4249-S
This is an application to renovate an architecturally very elaborate three story building constructed in historicist style in 1880 for the Bournemouth School of Art, in order to open a bar/cafe restaurant and to establish a brewery within the building. The site, which is within the Poole Hill and West Cliff Conservation Area, is quite extensive and stretches from Poole Hill back to rear premises along West Cliff Road.
The principal elevation of this structure gives the appearance of an eighteenth century town hall built in the classical style. The central section of the facade is crowned by a well designed pediment with balustrading either side. Four giant pilasters frame the outer and central sections of the facade which encloses six arched windows and the central balcony door on the first floor and seven vertical windows above. Pilasters are also placed between each window on both floors The rear facade is less symmetrical with a Flemish gable and a baroque dormer at both extremities with pilasters enclosing single, double and triple sets of windows on the first and second floors. The ground floor consists of several un-coordinated entrances including a roll up metal guard.
The new proposals involve the creation of a traditional Victorian public house facade on the ground floor which would consist mainly of arched windows and a new main entrance with skylight above. Also the surviving original interior decoration would be fully restored and a new traditional style entrance would be made on the rear elevation.
Generally speaking, the Society is very pleased to recommend this highly original endeavour that seeks to bring back into full use a fine late nineteenth century building that has been neglected for too long. Furthermore we think that the very palpable contrast should be noted between the generally exemplary rehabilitation suggestions for 41/45 Poole Hill and the very insensitive design that has been proposed for 2 West Hill Road in the same immediate vicinity.
However we would suggest that regarding the appearance of the new arched ground floor facade on Poole Hill, the main entrance should be centred directly beneath the pediment with arched windows either side. If this were done, we think a better overall sense of symmetry would be achieved.
Consequently, because this application does not yet fully comply with the conservation policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan we feel that it should be deferred for further discussion. (4.4, i.ii and iii)
New University Buildings, Saint Pauls’ Place/Lansdown Road Ref. No. 7-2016-11301-CE
This is an application for the construction of a new building for the Faculty of Social Health at Bournemouth University. It would eventually become part of the expanding campus of the university that would be concentrated principally between Wessex Way, Oxford Road, Holdenhurst Road, Christchurch Road and Saint Swithins Road. The proposed site which is completely vacant is bounded by Landsdown Road, Wessex Way and Saint Pauls Road and abuts the Asda Roundabout.
Overall, the Society the Society is quite impressed by the imaginative design for this site which offers considerable integrated variation in form and mass and facade design.
The principal north eastern elevation that would be seen approaching central Bournemouth along Wessex Way would consist of four rectangular architectural elements descending from seven to four stories and extending from Saint Pauls Road along Wessex Way to Landsdown Road. Beyond would by further four story ranges on the western and southern sides of the site that would terminate in a wide and deep, glass atrium/entrance that would be linked to the main seven story block by a series of stepped stories enclosing continuous lighting strips.
The two central sections of the four architectural elements of the main north facing elevation would be in the form of unrestricted glass facades made up of vertical glass panels secured by unobtrusive interior supports; and each section would be divided from its neighbour by prominent concrete party walls that would project above the roof height of the top stories.
The two outer sections of the north facade and also the interconnected facades of the four story west and south ranges would be composed of vertical lighting strips arranged in an amalgam of varying lengths and related to each other by a restrained synthesis of vertical and horizontal lengths of relatively narrow solid wall .
However irrespective of our general welcome for the proposals, it is the opinion of the Society that the design of the two glass facades is too aesthetically unbounded – that these two central sections simply are not properly integrated into the overall spatial structure of the entire north facing elevation. However we believe this deficiency could be solved as follows:-
A substantial entablature along the edge of the topmost story of each facade could be added of exactly the same width as that section of the party walls that project upwards in a somewhat unnecessary neo-modernist gesture above the roof level of the two facades.
Also in order to give a more interesting shape and greater depth to the glass sections, the two centrally positioned, concrete supports on each glass facade should be made far more prominent and project outwards from the flat surface of the glass elevations. In this way the two central sections of the north elevation would be more robustly related to the whole and so present a more pleasing picture for visitors to Bournemouth arriving along Wessex Way.
Accordingly, since we have come to the conclusion that this application does not fully abide by the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, we suggest it be deferred for further discussion. ( 4.19, i, ii and iii )
8 Carbery Avenue Ref. No. 7-2016-2515-F
This is an application to construct two chalet bungalows on the site of one bungalow that was constructed, along with the existing neighbourhood in the same form on spacious plots during the interwar period.
Each new bungalow attempt to imitate the general style of the adjacent properties and consists of a rectangular box ( with pitched roof ) fronted by a two story projection made up of horizontal rectangular fenestration with French windows and balconies on the first floor. The main entrance in imitation International Moderne form is in one corner of the ground floor.
The Society thinks that two bungalows on this plot is too high a density for the area and also the quality of the design falls short of the general quality of the adjacent properties; criticisms which in addition to fears of excessive traffic, that are echoed in six letters of objection by local residents. Quite apart from detracting from the general appearance of the neighbourhood, it was also considered that the enlarged built foot print would have a negative effect on the fauna and flora of the surrounding healthland. We suggest that if development must occur, a more sensitive design limited to one relatively spacious would be the best answer.
Accordingly, the Society feels that since this application falls short of the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion. ( 4.19, i, ii and iii )
6 Nelson Road Ref. No. 7-2016-15040-H
This is an application to build five two story town houses on a rectangular piece of enclosed land reached by a narrow road off Nelson Road, Westbourne.
Four of the houses would be in the form of two pairs of semi-detached properties placed beside each other, parallel to the approach road in the centre of the site and the other property would be on the other side of the road near the site boundary. Each house would be built in somewhat eclectic style; a combination of a traditional shape ( with hipped roof and gables to the principle elevations ) but with quite distinctive fenestration.
On both principal elevations – apart from extensive gable windows – the windows on the first floor would be in the form of distinctive rectangular shapes with prominent framing. The main entrance and much smaller rectangular windows on the ground floor of the N.W. Elevation would be partially encased by concrete collars; French windows would make up the S.E elevation.
The Society feels that because the site is quite well secluded by trees and is relatively distant from the line of houses along Nelson Road, a greater freedom of design for this site is possible. However bearing in mind comments from local residents about increased parking problems and that the lay- out of the proposed development is not in keeping with the more dispersed, general character of the neighbourhood, we would suggest that a single built foot print – similar in area to the adjacent properties would be more appropriate. In addition, such a layout would preserve a greater proportion of the natural fauna and flora of the area.
The Society has therefore concluded that since this application does not properly comply with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. (4.19, i, ii and iii )
Radcliffe Court, Manor Road Ref. No. 7-2016-12459-L
This is an application to change under Reserved Matters of the Planning Application Procedures the architectural form and style of the five story block of 14 flats that was submitted as Planning Application 7-2014-12459-K and subsequently allowed by the Planning Board.
However in February 2016, a letter was sent on behalf of the developers seeking to alter the appearance of the Manor Road and Bournemouth Overcliff Drive elevation by the substitution of Art Deco facades on the north and south elevations of the proposed block. The letter fully acknowledged that Bournemouth Council was not really happy with the approved modernist design and, in the Society’s opinion, graciously offered to change the architectural design so as to make the proposed new structure more complimentary to adjacent buildings which are in the East Cliff Conservation Area. Although we fully accept that no replacement can equal the classical style Victorian mansion that is not likely to be restored, we certainly feel that what is now proposed is a considerable improvement on what was originally envisaged.
The north facing facade, and to a lesser extent the south facade, resembles to a reasonable degree the Art Deco hotels such as the Suncliffe and the Cumberland that were constructed east of the Carlton Hotel in the 1930’s. From the asymmetrically positioned central entrance projection which encompasses a very prominent lighting strip, a series of rectangular 1930’s style windows extends outwards on every floor, which, with the exception of the ground floor, are partially faced with solid balconies in appropriate Art Deco style. The south facing facade is more restrained and consists mainly of French windows and continuous part glass/part concrete balconies. The top story of the entire building would be in the form of a large recessed penthouse.
Under the circumstances, the Society concludes that since the new design now fulfils a considerable proportion of the conservation policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be allowed. (4.4, i, ii and iii)
Burlington House, Burlington Arcade Ref. No.7-2016-1617-AY
This is an application to construct ten further flats above the Burlington Arcade; a modernist structure built on the site of West’s Cinema which was destroyed during the Second World War.
On the Old Christchurch Road frontage the extra story will make the height of the facade more compatible with neighbouring buildings. In Saint Peters Road the increased height will give the facade a better individual appearance but the differences in height between the Burlington Arcade elevation and the adjacent Victorian terraces will be further exaggerated.
Generally speaking, the Society approve of the alterations; at the very least they will achieve a relative improvement to a very unimaginatively designed, post war, concrete box. However we feel that the fenestration on the Old Christchurch Road facade should be set out in a more regular manner.
Accordingly, the Society thinks that since this application does not fulfil all the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion. (4.19, i, ii and iii)