PLANNING APPLICATIONS RECEIVED BY BOURNEMOUTH PLANNING DEPARTMENT DURING MAY 2020 – A CRITIQUE BY JOHN SOANE, BUILD ENVIRONMENT CONSULTANT TO BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY
9 Castle Road Ref. No. 7-2020-635-P
This is an application to build four dwellings, up to three stories in height, in the form of two pairs of semi-detached houses on part of the large site (Site B) of the former Castle Laundry – an extensive complex of low rise industrial buildings of no architectural significance whatsoever. Each pair of semi-detached houses has a fairly traditional form and mass with double gables on the principal and rear elevations merging into a hipped roof. While there is relatively conventional fenestration on the rear elevation, to the front there is a variety of window sizes and shapes. On the ground floor beside two entrances are two rectangular casement windows where above are two larger casement windows encased by projecting concrete frames beside two much smaller, rectangular windows. Each gable has a vertical, modern window.
The Society feel that the general shape of the built footprint of the semi-detached blocks which is generally similar to other planned terraced and semi-detached developments ( together with a small block of flats ) on the Castle Laundry site, is generally compatible with the general layout of adjacent roads of original houses. However we do think that that the architectural design of the principal elevations for Site B is unnecessarily too overtly eclectic – with too great a variation of window size for such relatively narrow facades. We are of the opinion there needs to be a more sensitive synthesis between all the window sizes and shapes without any modernist, frame projections.
Therefore under the circumstances, because this application does not fully comply with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, the Society feels it should be deferred for further discussion and design improvement.
29 Iford Lane Ref. No. 7-2020-635-P
This is an application to construct a single/two storey extension to a mid twentieth century dwelling house of approximately the width of one room onto the rear of the house and also to create a narrow, single storey extension along the side well across the former path to the separate garage. The principal change will the new rear elevation where a new French window and a smaller window would be placed asymmetrically in relation to the original walls of the house. There would also be a small façade extension, with window, to the front elevation of the house.
Given the limited dimensions of the site, the Society feel that what is proposed is rather an excessive extension in comparison with the ratio between open and built space in adjacent properties. In addition we think that the resulting, particularly spacious living space that would result would make it reasonably easy for the property to be turned into more than one unit of accommodation. Therefore under the circumstances we believe that more information regarding the purpose of the development would be useful. Consequently the Society has decided that because this application does not completely fulfil the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion and clarification.
17 West Cliff Road Ref. No. 7-2020- 1706-U
Plans for the redevelopment of this important site on the Bournemouth West Cliff on the very edge of the Poole Hill and West Cliff Conservation Area have already been dealt with in detail by the Society.
The latest application is generally similar to previous applications but the Society feels that certain design improvements are necessary. Generally speaking, we think that the relatively flamboyant, late nineteenth century historicist style of the structure is quite appropriate to the West Cliff. However we are certain that the size of the built foot print should be reduced and the slight elements of asymmetry present on the principal elevation should be removed. We therefore suggest that the size of the prominent hipped roof could be lowered by one storey and the three, tall, narrow projections on the principal façade should all be made of equal width. The two sections of the central façade between these projections could also be made of equal length and in addition, the existing balconies on the first and second floors could be designed to appear more symmetrical and less prominent. The Society believes that if these design changes are carried out, the proposed building could act as an acceptable visual stepping stone between the quasi-modernist Court Royal Hotel and the full modernist Crescent Court block of flat. Therefore we have concluded that because this application does not exactly comply with the policies of the adjacent conservation area, it should be deferred for further improvement.
657-659 Christchurch Road Ref. No. 7-2020-5591-P
This is an application to build a five storey block of five flats in modernist style on the site of a late nineteenth century building hitherto used as a bank.
The principal north facing façade of the proposed structure would consist of a long narrow lighting strip going across all floors and encased by a heavy concrete frame. Large openings on the ground floor would lead to storage and car parking spaces. All the upper floors – with the exception of the smaller windows in the penthouse on the fifth floor – would have very prominent, horizontal strip fenestration. The west and east elevation would consist mainly of blank walls with a small number of vertically aligned windows on the upper floors.
The Society feels strongly that the proposed design is totally unsuitable both visually and spatially for this important corner of late nineteenth century Boscombe. The design statement attempts to justify what is proposed by suggesting that the modern design compliments the modern architecture of the adjacent Chapter House Library in Heathcote Road. What this conclusion totally fails to appreciate is the importance of achieving a visual balance between a building on this corner site and the huge predominance of important Victorian architecture close to the principal façade of the proposed structure on Christchurch is of infinitely greater aesthetic importance than making a match with the new library. In fact we think that an earlier redevelopment design, with more integrated vertical emphasis that was rejected, would have produced a far better structure. The Society thinks that what is now presented is a rehash of some of the most banal and now totally discredited, architectural forms from the 1960’s; to be clad in the most inappropriately coloured blue and grey building materials in contrast to the traditional warm tones of the adjacent, original buildings. We say It is simply inaccurate to assert, as in the planning statement that the proposed block of flats is fully compatible with the surrounding townscape; in effect what is here presented is a poorly designed building made out of very unimaginative materials and built entirely for maximum remunerative purposes. If a new development is required on this site, we suggest a more sensitive modern design that offers greater visual acknowledgement to the great variety of nineteenth century buildings of central Boscombe.
Consequently the Society has decided that since this application in no way whatsoever, complies with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused.
3 Beechey Road (Corner of Wellington Road ) Ref. No. 7-2020-1577-T
This is an application to convert a substantial, late nineteenth century family house on the northern Cooper Dean Estate into nine flats – one in the roof. The new one and a half storey extension would be on the eastern side of the house – mainly in the form of extra sleeping accommodation. Although some of the new flats would include two bedrooms, all the resulting rooms would be quite small – some of the bedrooms would be little better than poorly lighted sleeping cubicles – and not suitable for family use. An extension to the principal elevation would come in the form of a pitched roof structure with ground floor bay window and gable window above.
On previous occasions the Society has made known its strong opposition to such conversions of original houses in historic residential neighbourhoods. The resulting facilities do not provide civilised accommodation in any way and also reduce the stock of family residences which is much needed in Bournemouth.
Under the circumstances, we have decided that since this application does not in any way comply with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused.
1008B Wimborne Road (car park of the former Holly Tree Pub ) Ref No 7-2020-3141-AA
This is an application to construct a three storey block of eight flats on the site of the carpark of the former Holly Tree pub which has recently been converted into flats. Unfortunately, an illustration of the proposed works cannot be found but it would appear that there would be three flats on the ground and first floors and two above them. From the regularly positioned window openings, it would appear that the appearance of the building would be relatively traditional.
So far as the Society can judge, what is proposed would integrate into the surrounding townscape reasonably well. In the absence of any strong move to create offices/light workshops on the site, we think there is no reason to prevent this proposal from being granted.
96/98A Malvern Road, Moordown Ref. No. 7-2020-21703-B
This is an application to construct a pair of semi-detached houses and a small block of five small apartments on the two sites. At present the latter are occupied by a two storey house and a bungalow and indeed the mid twentieth century neighbourhood where these properties are situated is made up of a mixture of one and two storey dwellings.
The two new structures would be designed in a mixture of traditional suburban house proportions and more modern architectural facades. On the principal elevations below prominent hipped roofs would be modern casement windows and extended, first floor balconies. There are slight projections on both facades.
In view of the modern character of the surrounding townscape, the Society feels the proposals would be quite appropriate. However bearing in mind the very small size of the flats, we would suggest that the number of apartments be reduced to three.
We have decided therefore that since this application does not fully comply with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion and improvement.
10 Carbery Avenue Ref. No. 7-2020-17708-A
This is an application to construct a small three storey block of four maisonettes on the site of a substantial mid twentieth century, family house within a well established residential neighbourhood in West Southbourne.
The block would be designed in the form of a contemporary residence containing traditional design traditions and modern horizontal proportions. The relatively low principal façade would have a wide gabled projection with a prominent hipped roof. There would be extensive sequences of glass panels on the ground floor with vertical windows or French windows ( with balconies ) above. The chief fear of local inhabitants is that the replacement of family houses by flats would be an unwanted disturbance to the peace of the neighbourhood and would be sure to drive up the price of family houses that remain.
The Society, while certainly of the opinion that the proposed design of the proposed maisonette block is superior to the existing building, fully realises that a delicate balance has to be found between enhancing the visual quality of a neighbourhood and the preservation the sense of the social communalism of the same place which has evolved over the years. This is a difficult problem: is change more likely by natural evolution or is it more likely to be enforced by proactive developers?
In these circumstances, the we think the Council should take the initiative by initiating a general analysis of the visual and social character of particular residental neighbourhoods and relate the conclusions reached to what proportion of houses could be safely redeveloped without risking the integral character of the area. What houses might eventually go could depend on their architectural quality.
Therefore we feel that under these circumstances, since this application does not fully relate to the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan and the principle of the loss of a family home has not been proven, it should be refused.
983-985, Christchurch Road, Pokesdown Ref. No. 7-2020-12239-D
This is an application to construct two new flats within the retail areas of two shops that have been part of a terrace of retail property that was constructed during the building boom in east Bournemouth, following the completion of the London main line in the late 1880’s. However with the recent decline in the popularity of traditional shopping, many small retail businesses in parts of Boscombe and Pokesdown have found it hard to remain viable. Hence the general trend to turn small shops into ground floor flats. This is what this application seeks to do this for two retail places near Pokesdown station. The two large display windows would be replaced by two smaller rectangular, casement windows and the entrance door would be modernised. The rear of the property would undergo considerable, uncoordinated fenestration changes including the installation of French windows.
The Society strongly disapproves of the policy of turning former shopping facilities into inappropriate flats. As in this case, we think the shape of the proposed new residential windows, totally degrades and disrupts the distinctive sweep of uniform display windows that are seen across a retail shopping parade as a whole. Further we feel strongly that the constant noise and bustle of a retail environment is a highly unsuitable accompanyment to the need to generate the peace, quiet and space needed to establish a decent home. We think a better solution would be to turn redundant shop premises int either offices or creative workshops.
The Society has therefore concluded that because this proposal completely fails to accommodate the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused.
10 Suffolk Road Ref. No. 7-2020-6638-J
This is an outline application by Bournemouth Churches Housing Association to demolish an existing twentieth century hostel on the corner of Suffolk and Cambridge Roads in order to construct on a larger built footprint, a purpose built, three to six storey block containing 31 flats for working people of limited means. The new structure would be designed in the modernist style and, according to the information at present available would consist of a series of interconnecting rectangles ( with flat roofs ), stepped down on the north elevation. The facades would be mainly in the form of double glass panels whereby random vertical sections of the latter would be emphasised by prominent concrete framing.
Although the Society fully supports the philanthropic aims of this enterprise we feel very strongly that the building proposed is quite out of character with the adjacent buildings; these consist of a mixture of later nineteenth century terraces or more modern concerted, or purpose built, blocks of flats. We agree with the views of many of the 20 letters sent in by local inhabitants who complain of the overpowering and alien impact of the new proposal and the negative effect it would have on the lifestyle of the area. So far as is known, this application was recently passed by the Planning Committee; and therefore we very much hope that considerable design improvements will be made before a detailed final planning application is submitted.
The Society certainly cannot support the opinions expressed during the initial discussion of this application that some buildings in the area have a negligible architectural significance. Quite the contrary: we feel strongly that it is the collective aesthetic impact of all structures of every quality within a particular urban context that creates a unique and integrated Sense of Place. However we realise that in this instance, imaginative visual perceptions are likely to be in short supply because committed social improvers are often so focussed with their honourable mission that they become oblivious to the necessity of creating an enhancing environment in which to live, parallel with satisfying basic human needs. A more restrained and integrated, modern design without the need to put in the unnecessary and somewhat passe, eclectic components of 1960’s modernism, we think would be an appropriate solution.
Under the circumstances, since this outline application in no way satisfies the demands of the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Plan, when the time comes, we consider it necessary that the detailed application be considerably altered in an appropriate manner.
Beach House Café, Mudeford Spit, Christchurch/Bournemouth Ref. 7-2020-11229-M
This is an application by BCP Council to build a new café/restaurant to replace the original structure that was destroyed by fire. It would be constructed of wood on a larger built footprint than the original structure. There would be a loggia with a seating area facing the harbour and above there would be a complex structure of triple hipped roofs.
The Society realises that the new café is an attempt by the council to improve hospitality facilities for both visitors and the considerable number of beach hut owners in the vicinity.
However this application has brought about an unprecedented negative response in the form of 238 letters of complaint.
The main point of issue of the majority of the beach hut owners is that a much larger café – far too large for the immediate area according to many people – would be likely to attract too many visitors, a considerable number of which would not have any respect for the peace of the area or its unique landscape and wildlife. A higher standard of amenities was expected from the Council similar to what had been normal before the fire.
The Society believes that where improved facilities for further visitors within a particularly desirable and beautiful place such as Mudeford Spit are proposed, there is always likely to be opposition by many who prefer the old ways to continue.
We suggest that a balancing act between these two extremes is achieved by the submission of a less elaborate design for the new café and that extensive discussions between the council and the beach hut owners be held in order to work out a viable solution for the best use of the Spit.
Consequently 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 and improvement.