To the Constitutional Policy Team, Cabinet Office,
Dear Sir / Madam,
You may already be aware that Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (“BCP Council”) is looking to submit a city status application for Bournemouth, as part of the Platinum Jubilee civic honours competition.
The Bournemouth Civic Society objects to this application most strongly.
The town’s residents were not consulted by the Council on this issue; local sentiment is in fact very much against and when The Bournemouth Daily Echo reported the story on 12 November – three days after the relevant Council meeting – the comments beneath that article were overwhelmingly negative.
This is scarcely surprising; Bournemouth was not designed as a city and the traditional seaside ambience of the place has long been part of its appeal.
The effects of city status on the town’s economy would be mixed at best; it seems doubtful, for instance, that visitors would wish to holiday in a “city”, or that the more mature, who currently make up a third of the town’s demographic, would be as keen to retire to a city area.
Most disconcerting from the Society’s point of view, however, would be the likely effect on the town’s environment.
At present, such high-rise or high-density developments as exist in the town are concentrated around a small section of Holdenhurst, Oxford and Christchurch Roads around The Lansdowne area.
Our fear is that city status would encourage such developments to proliferate – not least into the East Cliff conservation area less than one hundred yards away and likely into other currently desirable and attractive residential areas.ci
A Bournemouth councillor and BCP Cabinet member said at the last full Council meeting that the city bid “isn’t about high-rise blocks”, yet at the same time, the present administration’s “Big Plan” (though not yet adopted) is speaking ambitiously about “our transformation programme” and “building an iconic cityscape”, while referencing “our city region” on every other page. (https://www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/About-the-council/Our-Big-Plan/Our-Big-Plan.aspx)
Given these considerations and the antipathy towards a “Bournemouth City” but pride in the historic and former Borough status, felt not only throughout Bournemouth itself but also in the neighbouring towns of Poole and Christchurch, we would respectfully urge you to decline BCP Council’s application and instead consider elevating a town whose residents would genuinely welcome the honour.
Kenneth Mantock FRSA
The Bournemouth Civic Society endorses the sentiments of your correspondent Dr. Martin Rodger, as published in your edition of 18 November (“City status bid is ludicrous in the extreme”:
In addition to these concerns, there is a strong possibility that, should city status be granted for Bournemouth, the high-rise and high-density development currently confined to the Lansdowne area would proliferate throughout the town.
One Bournemouth councillor and member of the Cabinet addressing this issue in the Council debate on 9 November said “this isn’t about high-rise blocks”; yet at the same time the current administration’s “Big Plan” is speaking of “an iconic cityscape”, while referencing “our city region” on every other page.
We have great pride in all that is best of the parks, gardens and built heritage created by the vision of Victorian, Edwardian and twentieth century landowners, entrepreneurs and successive Borough Councillors and Town Officials.
So we are content with Bournemouth’s long held description as a “Garden City by The Sea” and do not see any sense in actually turning the town into a city which risks undermining all the characteristics that made and make it special.
Nor do we consider have residents been consulted on this issue at any stage.
Those who object to a “Bournemouth City” like us, however, can make their feelings known by contacting the decision-makers directly at email@example.com , or by writing to them at Constitutional Policy Team, Cabinet Office, 4th Floor Yellow Zone, 1 Horse Guards, London SW1A 2HQ.