WIDER REDEVELOPMENT IMPLICATIONS WITHIN HISTORIC TOWNSCAPES IN BOSCOMBE BY JOHN SOANE – BUILT ENVIRONMENT CONSULTANT, BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY
Over the last decade or so, parts of the extensive residential neighbourhoods of the original Boscombe Estate ( principally Hawkwood, Westby and Florence Roads ) and Boscombe Manor ( principally between Chessel and Montague Roads ), have come under increasing pressure from developers; many of whom wish to create medium sized blocks of flats on a buy to let basis.
This area still contains a high proportion of quite well designed middle class family villas that were created for holiday and/or retirement purposes during the exceptional expansion of Boscombe between c.1885 and 1940. The earlier development on the western side, mainly consists of houses built in traditional-historicist style which include: significant projections often ending in distinctive barge boarded gables, belvedere towers, complex hipped roofs and elaborate main entrances. The later, interwar roads to the east, generally are constructed in Arts and Crafts/ Art Deco Style, with more restrained facades, asymmetrical fenestration and simpler roofs.
These residential neighbourhoods are an important part of the aesthetic character of Boscombe and deserve to be better protected by new Conservation Areas or more stringent measures against insensitive redevelopments where the guiding motive is only financial gain.
A case in point is the granting of permission for the demolition of 40 Florence Road, a good example of a late nineteenth century detached residence, for a new block of flats. As a result of this decision, an application has now been received to demolish a neighbouring villa, 38 Florence Road to construct a similar property. And further east at 5 Woodland Avenue, as well as at other properties in the same road, there is continual pressure by means of conversion or demolition to create more flats.
Therefore the Civic Society most earnestly entreats the BCP Council and the Planning Committee to take into account; not only the specific qualities of design of specific proposals but also whether or not the general visual characteristics of the adjacent townscape where the development is contemplated, is sufficiently important to require the preservation of the existing property. For even if the majority of new developments in historic residential areas within Boscombe generally imitate the particular style of the neighbourhood, no replacement can really take the place of the original structure.
The Civic Society greatly applauds the desire of the BCP Council to make every effort to preserve the exceptional environment of the local area. But we would suggest that in order to achieve this, effective policies must be evolved to preserve the distinctive characteristic qualities of historic residential neighbourhoods. For without the exceptional contribution of these areas, the uniqueness and popularity of the wide appeal of Bournemouth as a generally unspoiled, late nineteenth century, maritime resort will be seriously compromised to the detriment of the hospitality industry in the town.