STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATION MEETING – CARLTON HOTEL, BOURNEMOUTH 10/4/18
Discussion sessions were held at the Carlton in April for interested parties in conjunction with Bournemouth Borough Council and Donald Insall Associates in order to help formulate viable Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plans for the Old Christchurch Road, the East Cliff and the West Cliff Conservation Areas. In particular it was considered desirable to ascertain how best these important areas of historical townscape could be synthesised into the future general development needs of the town centre.
With respect to the Old Christchurch Road Conservation Area, discussion was focused on the particular spatial qualities of this throughfare; whether or not the existing boundaries should be revised; the architectural qualities of particular buildings and how this central part of the conurbation should evolve in the future.
It was accepted from the start that Old Christchurch Road was, in general terms, a unique piece of townscape that had survived from the late Nineteenth Century and that it was and remains the main spine of the historic section of Bournemouth. Participants felt that the exceptional quality of the, mainly Italianate, retail premises constructed between c. 1860 and 1930 from Gervis Place to Albert Road ( St. Peter’s Walk ), created an exceptional Sense of Place for this part of Old Christchurch Road and should be preserved as they were originally built at all costs. However it was also felt that the architecture of the middle section of Old Christchurch Road, generally as far as Glen Fern Road – in particular the elaborate, half-timbered revivalist, Dalkeith Buildings and the Italianate retail premises between Horseshoe Common and Glen Fern Road – also encouraged a distinctive Sense of Place.
In addition the participants, being mindful of insensitive intrusions into Old Christchurch Road –such as Beales Department Store and the new construction in the general vicinity of Lorne Park Road – felt that the relatively inferior quality of the existing townscape in the lower part of Old Christchurch Road – especially the low rise, interwar premises west of Stafford Road and the Victorian structures between Wotton Mount and the Landsdown – could warrant a degree of sensitive reconstruction/redevelopment in the future. Further it was considered necessary that a strict policy of enforcing appropriately designed shop fronts should be enacted in respect to all future building work in this area in the near future.
Later on a vote, it was decided that the proposed boundary extensions to the Old Christchurch Road Conservation Area should be allowed. The main reason was to include adjacent pieces of townscape; both to enhance the urban context of the existing conservation area and also better to protect it from the visual impact of nearby, insensitive new development. The most significant extension would be along Westover Road. Such a move, not only would conserve the inter war, neo-Georgian retail/commercial terrace ( to 26 Westover Road ) but also better secure the Art Deco Westover Cinema and Ice Rink, the Italianate Gaumont Cinema and the International Moderne Palace Court Hotel against badly designed redevelopment. The commercial buildings along Hinton Road were not considered worthy of conservation status but west of Gervis Place, the considerable nineteenth century retail premises between Terrace Road and the Square were felt to be worthy of inclusion. It was also felt practical to include the considerable architectural variety of large interwar, retail/apartment buildings along Bourne Avenue ( with an outlier to Saint Stephen’s Hall ) between the Congregational Church and the Square; the eclectic mix of late Victorian and more modern commercial structures between Yelverton Road and Richmond Gardens on Richmond Hill and also the lower part Old Christchurch Road between Lorne Park Road and the Landsdown.
Discussion then continued in respect to the visual contribution of individual buildings along Old Christchurch Road. The main criteria of judgement was the extent to which a particular structure retained sufficient, original architectural features to make it worth retaining and/or restoring in relation to sustaining the overall, distinctive aesthetic qualities of the adjacent townscape. If such criteria were not met, the implications of replacing the building with a new structure where the design would not detract from the general urban characteristics of the area were also tackled.
However it was decided that while certain specific buildings such as Dalkeith Buildings, the old Bright’s Department Store and the Cadena Cafe certainly were worthy of special consideration, it was the general high quality of the greater proportion of the individual buildings taken together, that made the justification of this important central throughfare in Bournemouth, worthy of exceptional consideration.
The main conclusion of this intensive meeting was the need to promote and enhance within a safe environment, the social viability and the existing retail and leisure facilities of Old Christchurch Road. That to achieve this it would be necessary to make a more precise division of the existing townscape in order to distinguish those buildings that should be renovated; those buildings that should be more comprehensively restored or reconstructed and those buildings which should be replaced by new developments of modern design but complimentary to adjacent property.
Above all it was felt necessary to send a strong message to the Government that important conservation areas such as Old Christchurch Road still have a vital role to play in the life of older towns and cities and where the replacement of the existing townscape by insensitive high rise/high density development is proposed for mainly ideological reasons, this is most definitely the wrong path to follow.