PLANNING APPLICATIONS RECEIVED BY THE BOURNEMOUTH PLANNING DEPARTMENT DURING MAY 2019 A CRITIQUE BY JOHN SOANE, BUILT ENVIRONMENT CONSULTANT TO BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY
14-20a Belle Vue Road, Southbourne Ref No. 20591-B
This is the latest application to construct a three/four storey building containing 38 sheltered flats for older persons over 60 years old on the site of four bungalows. In comparison with the more traditional design of the previous application, the design of the proposed structure is in the contemporary modernist format that may be considered appropriate for a building intended for institutional use. The relatively small one bedroom apartments would be grouped together within three large rectangular blocks which would be joined in the centre to resemble, in a more formal way, an enormous three leaved clover. The different facades would be asymmetrically designed in a combination of interconnecting, rectangular, architectural elements; some sections having different sized rectangular windows, others horizontal glass sections with balconies and in some places substantial sections of solid wall
The Society is of the opinion that the overt modernist style of the proposals would make the new structure aesthetically wholly incompatible with the adjacent townscape. And indeed there has been an unprecedented negative response in the form of no less than 65 letters of comment from local residents. Their main complaint with which the Civic Society concurs is that the built footprint and general mass of what is proposed is far too large for the small scale of the individual bungalows and houses of the surrounding area. It is felt that the structure would would overwhelm the gardens of many existing properties by considerably restricting light and privacy – thereby degrading the amenity and community values that still exist in the neighbourhood. There is also the general feeling that further blocks of flats and retirement complexes are not needed, but more affordable family houses would be far better appreciated, this we endorse. More flatted residential units, it is strongly believed would create yet more traffic and thus a further degredation of the peaceful family atmosphere of this part of Southbourne.
The Society therefore thinks that because this application in no way fulfils the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused.
295-297 Castle Lane West Ref No. 7-2019-18110-D
This is an application to construct a three storey block of ten flats; a two storey block of four flats and a single dwelling house, all in modernized traditional style, on the site of a substantial mid twentieth century family house.
The development will consist mainly of two separate blocks, built parallel to each other facing on to Castle Lane West. The principal façade of Block A would encompass two slight projections of differing width ending in two gables which would be incorporated into a complex pitched roof. Fenestration would be symmetrically designed and consist generally of double or triple sized vertical casement windows. There would also be two French windows and one dormer. Block A would have a longer façade along Belmont Avenue with two projections with gables and three French windows; the single dwelling house of one and a half stories would be attached to this façade. The appearance of Block B, facing on to Castle Lane West, would, with one projection and gable, be a scaled down facsimile of Block A.
The Society is reasonably satisfied with the general characteristics of the design of the proposed development but we find the mass of Block A too large in relation to the size of the adjacent houses. If built, this structure would considerably disturb the spatial balance of the existing residential townscape. We also think there is inadequate car parking space for the number of designated flats. The Society therefore suggests that two smaller blocks, both not much larger than Block A would ensure a better aesthetic balance to the area. Consequently we have decided that since this proposal does not properly fulfill the townscape conditions of the Bournemouth Local Plan it should be deferred for further discussion and improvement.
11-13 West Cliff Road (former Wessex Hotel) Ref No. 7-2019-2037-AM
This is an application to increase the residential accommodation within the two flat blocks of the approved rebuilding scheme for the site of the Wessex Hotel. It would consist of six residential units and would be housed within large relatively shallow mansard roofs above the two blocks of flats. The flats would be lit by a row of dormer windows and connected to balconies created on the top of the bay window projections which are part of the lower facades of the two buildings.
The Society is in agreement with the Roof Addendum Design and Access Statement which suggests that the addition of mansard roofs would be a considerable enhancement of the existing proposed design and more in keeping with the surviving architectural features of the adjacent Victorian villas. However we would suggest that a further enhancement of the facades could be achieved by the removal of the proposed glass balconies for more traditional, wrought iron railing substitutes. Consequently, the Society feels that since this proposal which, is within the West Cliff and Poole Hill Conservation Area, generally satisfies the conservation policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be allowed.
Landscaping Plan for the Winter Gardens site. Ref No. 7-2019-1273-AZ
In the landscaping proposals for the extensive Winter Gardens redevelopment scheme it is proposed that a considerable amount of the existing natural wooded landscape between the centre of the site and the boundaries of existing properties along Priory Road would be preserved. The developers have also made known that a number of protected trees along the boundary with Cranbourne Road are likely to be removed.
This development has occasioned 22 letters about this project being written by local residents. The general feeling is that the Council has not fulfilled its promise to protect all the natural landscape on this site that was made during the planning discussions. The greatest fear is that residents living along Cranbourne Road would be exposed excessively to the presence of the large residential blocks and leisure facilities of the new Winter Gardens complex together with excess noise and privacy reduction. Most seriously it was felt that the removal of many long protected trees would create a degradation of the existing urban environment which would reduce the attraction of the town centre for future visitors.
The Society agrees fully with these anxieties and suggests that further urgent discussions take place between the Planning Department and the developers in order to ensure that as few trees as possible are removed from the Cranbourne Road boundary of the site. We think therefore that since this aspect of the overall Winter Gardens redevelopment scheme falls short of townscape policies within the Bournemouth Local Plan, the proposal should be deferred for further discussion and improvement.
Cabbage Patch Car Park (St Stephen’s Road) Ref No 7-2019-7755-B
This is an application to construct a four storey block of 11 flats at subsidized prices for lower income groups by BCP Council. The new building would be constructed on the site of an existing car park at the end of St Stephen’s Road.
The square central section of the built foot print would have two short extension to the south and north and from this plan would arise a solid looking flat block in modernist style. The principal north west façade would contain generally symmetrically positioned vertical double/triple windows, whereas on the other two main elevations, there would be a great emphasis on triple French windows with glass balconies. Above would be a glass fronted, indented, penthouse storey.
The Society cannot really say that it finds the design of the new structure especially original. It appears as a conventional flat block like so many that have appeared around Bournemouth in recent years. We do realize that financial constraints and the nearby presence of other blocks of flats has had an impact on the final design. Nevertheless we think that the window designs on the main façades could be more harmoniously integrated into the general architectural appearance of the entire block. Therefore the Society has decided that since this proposal does not fully comply with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion and improvement.
13 Durley Road South Ref No.7-2019-6344-V
This is an application to build a five/six storey block of 25 open market flats and six holiday flats on a vacant site within the West Cliff and Poole Hill Conservation area. Each of the four elevations consists of a combination of regularly positioned, lines of vertical windows interspersed with French windows giving access to glass balconies. There is penthouse story above with quite irregular fenestration.
The Society can truly say that it has not come across such a crass and insensitive design for such an important site in central Bournemouth for a very long time.
- The unimaginative proposals for the new block, with the exception of a few balconies, give the impression more of a barrack block than a welcoming piece of seaside architecture.
- The presence of the over large mass and form of this monstrosity would seriously degrade the existing, well balanced townscape vistas of the Durley Road South and Durley Chine Crescent
- The whole design of the proposed structure is completely incompatible with the accepted planning restraints of the surrounding conservation area.
Moreover we find that the level of misinformation contained in the accompanying Design Statement breathtaking. It is seriously contended that the proposed design would be not only in harmony with the existing townscape but if built would actually improve its appearance. Also the assertion in the Heritage Statement that the originators of this development have the most enormous respect for the heritage of the nineteenth century seaside architecture of the Bournemouth West Cliff must be taken with an enormous pinch of salt. A most forceful letter from English Heritage fully mirrors our concerns
The Society can only conclude that the very simplistic views contained in the Design Statement are the result of the absolutely negligible respect held by the originators of this development toward the character of the area or else the latter is only there to generate income and nothing more.
Consequently we most earnestly ask the Planning Committee to be aware of the manifold defects of this proposal but also to realize that that only two plots away from the vacant site in question, on the other side of the Kingsley Hotel; a year or two ago quite acceptable plans were presented for the redevelopment of the Chequers Hotel ( not even in the Conservation Area ).
Quite seriously, the Society feels that if this application is not rejected, it could open the flood gates to insensitive flat development within the historic West Cliff- similar to what occurred along West Cliff Road in the 1960’s . And since it is very true that a great number of visitors continue to be drawn by the continuing Victorian charm of this area a degradation of the existing built environment could eventually have a serious effect on the economic viability of the entire West Cliff. We have therefore concluded that since the proposal in no way fulfills the conservation policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be rejected.