BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY
SUMMER 2017 NEWSLETTER
Our Annual General Meeting took place on 3rd April and was attended by over fifty people. In a break from tradition we had coffee on arrival rather than in an interval and members sat in groups of eight at round tables rather than in rows. This proved to be very well received so we will repeat it in 2018. The conviviality was clear and the meeting all the better for the new arrangements. Formal business was concluded swiftly, including an entertaining Chairman’s Review of 2016 looking down onto our town from the skies of Bournemouth which was followed by a fascinating talk by our Heritage and Conservation Officer on the history and potential of the Regent Theatre (former Odeon Cinema) in Westover Road. Copies of Ken’s Review and James’ talk are available on the new website along with details of all those elected to the Committee for the 2017/2018 year.
Please take a look at our new website which provides fresh, simple and up to date news and information on our campaigns, interests and upcoming social events. The website provides us with the opportunity of sharing news with members and supporters far more regularly than newsletters like this.
If you want to know what your committee has discussed at the most recent monthly meeting, what our views are on latest planning applications, what we are doing on major campaigns (such as the former Westover Road cinemas) or you want to book a place on one of our talks, visits, social events or contact us please go to the website. We invested nearly £1500 on this new website as view this as a great investment that will boost awareness of the Society and we hope lead to new members.
Former Cinemas in Westover Road
Plans to convert the historic former Odeon Cinema into commercial and retail use plus build a multi-storied residential development on top of it have been of real concern to us. Twice plans have been rejected by the Council which effectively strip away all the remaining original historic features in this grand Italianate style building with plans to plonk a completely modern looking block of flats on its top. We welcome the Council’s rejection of these plans as through our Heritage and Conservation Officer’s tenacity and diligence his exploration into the significance of the building and its potential we provided professional and strong objections to the developer’s proposals.
Since the rejection of these plans we have been working to explore the potential of continued cultural and entertainment use here and recently have shared with the Council, heritage, cultural and other key partners our ideas for the building’s reuse and asked them to support our Feasibility Study.
It is regrettable that it appears the current owners of the Odeon are intent on promoting a predominately commercial and residential use of this fantastic building and in the last few weeks similar out of character and modern style alterations proposing residential use and new build on the former ABC cinema have come forward.
Echo Building, Richmond Hill
During April we were delighted to be contacted by THAT Group who shared with us their plans for the future of the listed Art Deco style Echo building. In essence the rooms and spaces now unused since the departure of the former staff, printing works and ancillary services associated with the town’s daily newspaper will be converted to a mix of office, commercial and residential uses. We were very pleased to learn that the features, fixtures and fittings that form the core of the building’s historic interest and that as such as protected by the building’s listing will be retained and that much sensitivity of approach was displayed in the outline scheme shown to us.
Work is still progressing on detailed plans but we are encouraged by what we saw that something both modern and respectful of the Echo building’s essential character is being evolved that should provide a viable economic future for this much loved landmark.
Neighbourhood Plans in Boscombe & Pokesdown and in Winton
We have been supporting local residents and community forums in two areas of the Borough with the development of their Neighbourhood Plans. In both areas, heritage and important buildings have been identified and policies that support the protection of local distinctiveness whilst encouraging ongoing community and economic vibrancy are being urged.
Engaging with the Council
As well as sending members of the Planning Board, other Councillors and officers our monthly comments on planning applications and sharing with them our views on key campaigns we also meet with them from time to time. In addition we meet up with the Council’s Head of Planning at least three times of year to share news and views.
In this year’s meetings that have taken place with Andrew England we have discussed items as diverse as: local government reorganisation, Winter Gardens redevelopment, Beales Place pedestrianisation, Pavilion Gardens development, Westover Road cinemas, the casino at the BH2 centre, Christmas Ice Rink in the lower gardens, the new Belvedere Hotel, the decrepit Cliff End Hotel, Lansdowne College renovation, Access off A338 into Bournemouth Hospital and loss of public loos. If you have an issue you would like us to take up please let us know.
Whilst you may be aware of the Green Flag scheme that acknowledges excellence in public gardens and open space management and the Blue Flag scheme which does the same for beaches and seafronts, you may not have heard of the Purple Flag scheme which covers night time economies and town centres. Bournemouth holds all three accolades and we have been invited to join the Purple Flag network and so welcome this opportunity to support efforts to improve the safe, vibrant and welcoming town centre environment.
Bournemouth Natural Science Society
We were pleased to support the BNSS in their bid to Heritage Lottery Fund to enable them to renovate the central glazed roof-light at the heart of their historic and listed headquarters building in Christchurch Road on the East Cliff. During Dorset Architectural Heritage Week (7-14 September) they will be welcoming members of the public to their amazing Victorian treasure house and on the afternoon of Saturday 9th September our Chairman is giving a talk entitled “Conservation and Change, a Short History of Bournemouth Civic Society there. Please come along.
Bournemouth in Bloom
We support the activities of our fellow town voluntary organisation; Bournemouth in Bloom, and we have made a further donation toward their essential work. Beryl Parker, our Social Activities Secretary is also Secretary of Bournemouth in Bloom and several current and former committee members are active in Westbourne on Bloom so we really appreciate the great work being done to keep Bournemouth green and florally fantastic. Take a look at the Bournemouth in Bloom website for their current projects and activities.
Commenting on planning applications affecting conservation areas, listed buildings, historic or interesting buildings or impacting on areas of public interest have always been the bread and butter work of the Civic Society. Much of the research work in this respect has long been competed by our Built Environment Officer John Soane and in the last year or so we have been so pleased to welcome our Heritage and Conservation Officer James Weir to the team. Plan and proposals are viewed on line or at the Planning Department and then views discussed at our monthly committee meetings so a collective view is agreed before they are sent to the Council for them to consider alongside other representations they may receive.
Sadly it seems that we object or request changes to more schemes than we can support or welcome with open arms but this reflects less on us being picky or unreasonable and more on developers still trying to get a quart into a pint pot or failing to recognise the value and potential of a heritage asset.
Here is a summary of just a few plans we have commented on: Ashley Road, Boscombe: family homes; The Green , Branksome Hill Road, Talbot Woods: flats; 1374 Christchurch Road, Iford: flats; 6 Merlewood Close, Meyrick Park: flats; 5 Florence Road, Boscombe: flats; Wessex Hotel, West Cliff: hotel and flats; Lansdowne Drill Hall, The Lansdowne: flats; Belvedere Hotel, Bath Road: flats; Durley Road Car Park, West Cliff: flats; 14-18 Wharfdale Road, Westbourne: houses flats and commercial units; 1 Polle Road, Westbourne: flats; 3 Wickham Road, Pokesdown: flats; Old Fire Station, 520 Wimborne Road, Winton: shops and flats – for full details look at the website where our monthly comments are shown.
Please take a look at the information accompanying this newsletter provided by Beryl Parker, our Social Activities Secretary, so you don’t miss out on booking for upcoming events or our Christmas Lunch. Details of the events are also available on the website.
President John Barker Tel 01202 293237
Chairman Ken Mantock Tel 07712 532 839
Vice Chairman Jean Bird Tel 01202 757051
Heritage and Conservation Officer James Weir Tel: 07771 154 053
Social Secretary Beryl Parker Tel 01202 512717
Details of all the Committee Members for 2017/18 and copies of monthly meeting minutes, comments on planning applications and past newsletters are available on our website.