RENEWAL OF PERMISSION TO SITE THE UPSIDE DOWN TOPSY TURVY HOUSE, AT PRESENT IN THE SOUTH FACING PAVILION FORECOURT, IN THE SAME LOCATION FOR 24 MONTHS. A CRITIQUE BY JOHN SOANE, BUILT ENVIRONMENT CONSULTANT, BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY – JANUARY 2023 Ref. No. 7-2022-1570-BC
The visual context for this application is a most prominent position between the principal sea facing elevation of the Pavilion and the seaward end of the landscaped Lower Pleasure Gardens bordering the Bourne Stream. The building in question is a fantasy designed, relatively small, vernacular style wooden house that has been turned upside down on to its re-enforced hipped roof. An attempt is made under the Supporting Statement section to try and justify the enhancing quality of this building for legitimate entertainment purposes under National Planning Policy Guidance.
On the contrary, the Civic Society contends that this assertion is merely a convenient justification for the inclusion of a highly unsatisfactory object that visually degrades an aesthetically sensitive area of the maritime townscape of Bournemouth. Far from attempting to improve the general quality of urban design within the Pier Approach, the presence of the Upside Down House disrupts and harms the visual perception of neighbouring historic buildings.
The fine architectural creation along the south elevation of the Pavilion is especially affected. With its finely turned pilasters and noble arched windows, the Pavilion entertainment complex, designed in 1929 by Wyville Home and Shirley Knight, combines the very best Beaux Arts decoration and modern American theatre planning of its time. How the promoters of the Upside Down House can say so confidently that the near presence of this wooden shack is a positive enhancement of the seaward terrace of the Pavilion, absolutely escapes us.
And in this respect the Society would respectfully offer its views to the Planning Department. Never forget that the exceptional success of Bournemouth as a maritime resort has always rested on maintaining a proper balance between the urban landscape and a general restraint in respect to the appearance of buildings created for visitors in the town . In the enjoyability of well manicured open space the latter must always be contained by appropriate buildings which, while always being economically viable and popular with visitors, should never be allowed to cross a red line to become perhaps cheapjack and wholly inappropriate for a resort with such a finely balanced open-built up character as Bournemouth.
Therefore we would also urge the Planning Department to realise the visual upset the Topsy Turvy House can cause it its current location whether it be temporarily or permanently sited. We are not convinced by the promoters’ request for the renewal of limited time spans; this can be simply a cover for the permanent establishment of their enterprise in the same position.
And so the Society thinks it is essential that the Planning Department should continue to always be aware of their obligation to ensure that the outstanding contribution that Bournemouth made to the English Garden City tradition should always be upheld within the pleasure gardens of the town centre.
Therefore we would suggest that a more appropriate, but less prominent place for the Upside Down House would be in the car park between the east side of the Pavilion and Bath Road, along the seafront or back in its original location at The Triangle.