PLANNING APPLICATIONS RECEIVED BY BOURNEMOUTH PLANNING DEPARTMENT DURING AUGUST 2016 – A CRITIQUE BY JOHN SOANE, BUILT ENVIRONMENT CONSULTANT, BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY
Roland House, Hinton Road Ref. No. 7-2016-22646-G
This is an application to heighten by two floor levels a five storey office block, built in a debased classical style during the mid Twentieth Century. The existing building has already been converted into flats.
The proposed extension would be designed in the modernist style and would consist essentially of a large glass box over two stories with minimum wall divisions on the principal elevation towards Hinton Road; a much higher proportion of wall to the rear elevation and glass balconies on the side elevations – some of which would be triangular on account of the irregular shape of the main building. Moreover, there would be a pronounced overhang above the original side elevations by the new glass side elevations above and a flat roof above.
The Society has concluded that the new extension – far from providing what the Design Statement calls an “aesthetically pleasing solution” will instead create an over blown, top heavy and architecturally inept building that will in no way enhance the visual appearance of Hinton Road. If any extension is required for Roland House; according to the natural laws of architectural proportion, it should taper away towards a reduced void above and be composed of building materials that can be more closely related to the existing structure below.
Therefore we think that since this application does not comply with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. ( 4.19. i, ii, and iii )
Woodland Point, Wotton Mount Ref. No. 7-2016-8627-J
This is an application to build a seven storey block of 36 flats on the site of an existing building in the general vicinity of a relatively complete, late nineteenth century, mainly retail neighbourhood near Old Christchurch Road and also within a relatively short distance of several residential high rise blocks in Bath Road. The proposed site which connects with both the historic and modernist sectors of the neighbourhood, is quite extensive and secluded by mature landscaping.
In the proposed block, the main N.W. and S.E. facades would be composed by a combination of a series of vertical and horizontal windows arranged in a regular formation; much of the rectangular fenestration are surrounded by concrete collars and serviced by small patios with glass balconies. The short N.E. side elevation is overwhelmingly just wall with a central vertical line of small square windows while the corresponding S.W elevation has a double phalanx of triple rectangular glass panels on each floor. The ground floor is devoted to service functions with few openings and a porte cochere and the top story is in the form of a slightly indented penthouse.
Although the proposed building is quite near a fair amount of modern architecture, the Society feel that because its actual position is somewhat nearer the late nineteenth century architecture along Old Christchurch Road, its large bulk and uncompromisingly contemporary style would create a disorientating visual influence within the surrounding area. In addition we think that the structure:
- Would destroy the spatial intimacy of Wotton Mount
- Would go against the restrictions of Bournemouth Council on high buildings in the vicinity of well integrated, historic urban areas .
- Would encourage more demolitions of older structures and an extension of high rise areas by stealth.
Under these circumstances we conclude that because this planning application has not fulfilled the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. ( 4.19, i, ii, and iii )
8-10 Yelverton Road Ref. No. 7-2016-5535-AP
This is an application to extend upwards by three floors, an existing, three storied, commercial building built as offices for the regional electrical company during the inter-war period in order to create a total of 20 flats.
The existing structure is quite a distinguished example of Art Deco architecture and consists of a pillastered ground floor; above which are two stories of closely positioned vertical sash windows with two slight projections at the two extremities. The main entrance facade at the corner of Yelverton Road and Verelum Place is an accomplished piece of architectural design and there is a further short extension, three windows wide at the opposite end of the building.
The proposal is to add a further line of vertical windows, symmetrically positioned but fewer and not in the same pattern as the original fenestration. The original projections and the far corner by Richmond House would be carried up into the roof to form gable type windows and there would be two stories of smaller dormer windows across a prominent hipped roof.
The Society fully realises that the creativity of the original design would be considerably reduced by the proposed extensions. Although elements from the existing structure are used, they are not utilised in the same aesthetic spirit as the latter – indeed the built forms of the new upper part do not seamlessly integrate visually with what is below.
However even if the skyline silhouette of the existing building does appear to form a satisfactory gradual step upwards of the building heights from the Old Christchurch Road end of Yelverton Road towards Richmond Hill; we feel that viewed in the opposite direction, a heightening of this Art Deco building would enable a more uniform and balanced line of street facades to be achieved along Yelverton Road in the other direction.
The Society thinks that the following question must be posed: what is more important in this particular urban context; a general improvement in the visuality and the economic and social viability of the street or the preservation of the unique features of the building as it now stands? This conundrum must be decided by the Planning Department. If it is considered advisable to make an extension to the present structure then we feel strongly that this change should be carried out with considerable sensibility.
Firstly the Society urges that the extension should be only of two floors and that the fenestration pattern should follow far more closely the proportions of the existing window to wall balance. Secondly the Mansard style roof should not be nearly so prominent and thirdly the gable tops of the two projections should be finished off by distinctive Art Deco sculptural flourishes.
We realise how difficult it is to resolve this application – thus, since it has not fully complied with the townscape policy conditions of the Bournemouth Local Plan, we suggest it be deferred for further discussion. ( 4.19, i, ii, and iii )
Durley Road Car Park Ref. No. 7-2016-25651
This is an application for the construction of a five to six story block of 44 flats to be built on the site of the present public,Car Park by Bournemouth Council and private developers.
The site of the planning proposal was originally covered by large mid to late nineteenth century family villas set in spacious gardens and similar to adjacent structures now converted into hotels. However as a result of the considerable re-orientation of the road system on the West Cliff, the new flat block would be constructed on an exceptionally large ‘island site’ and completely surrounded by elements of the original urban structure of the area. It has therefore been suggested that in these circumstances, a somewhat larger, somewhat more modern structure might be more appropriate in helping to integrate in a more meaningful way, the adjoining historic townscapes in the West Cliff and Poole Hill Conservation Area.
The proposed structure would consist of two blocks, joined at right angles to each other and positioned in the very middle of the site so as to avoid the destruction of the roots of mature trees.
The principal elements of modernist design would be in the form of vertical concrete collars framing windows on several floors as well as French windows with prominent glass balconies – especially on the Wessex Hotel and Hahnemann Road elevations. However more traditional architectural features such as horizontal brick banding between floors and modernized versions of canted bay windows have also been incorporated; especially in the most symmetrical principal elevation of the new block facing Durley Road. The remaining three facades exhibit a more asymmetrical character and include large gables of open modern design; and above is a traditional hipped roof containing two stories of prominent dormer windows in modern form.
The Society has concluded that in contrast to generally poor aesthetic results where traditional and modern architectural forms are mixed together; in this case the result is reasonably satisfactory. There is a proper balance of horizontal and vertical architectural elements and an attempt has also been made to capture a reasonable degree of the visual ambience of late nineteenth century seaside villas albeit on a much larger scale. We feel that the more spatial dimensions of the site will enable the distinctive features of what is proposed to be properly set off to the general advantage of the West Cliff.
We would however suggest a reduction of the impact of the concrete collar that surrounds the stair windows above the main entrance on the Hahnemann Road elevation; a more elegant design for the fenestration in the large gables and the replacement of all the glass balconies by substitutes in the form of more traditional iron railings.
Consequently the Society has decided that because this application has not fully satisfied the conservation policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion. (4.4, i, ii, and iii )
Saint Stephen’s Road car park Ref. No. 7-2016-7044-H
This is an application to create two six and seven story buildings containing 49 flats and town houses.
The Society feels that the proposed design is a considerable improvement on the last application which was too linear and contained an irrelevant free standing high rise block. It would appear to us that both blocks have evolved into two more integrated built entities with a greater vertical emphasis and a more compact built footprint which allows a much greater proportion of the natural vegetation on the site to be preserved along St. Stephen’s Way, alongside the Fern Bank block of flats and above St. Stephen’s Hall
With regard to the modulated architectural elements of the principal facades of both structures and the wider, related spatiality of the latter to the general contours of the site, the Society thinks that a reasonable level of co-ordination has been achieved.
The principal elevation of the larger block at the corner of St. Stephen’s Road and St. Stephen’s Way, exhibits a convex curve while the smaller block beyond is L shaped. The basic facade construction is a combination of traditional sections of wall and vertical window interspersed by horizontal elements where glass communal balconies front vertical glass panels. The roofline in the larger block has an asymmetrical appearance with different sized lighting, while that of the smaller block is in the form of a large penthouse with vertical windows. The ground floor of both blocks has rectangular and vertical fenestration with the main entrance of the larger block on the lower ground floor.
Although we are generally satisfied with the final result we think that because of the difference in building levels along St. Stephen’s Way, the lesser block should be reduced by one story. We also think that in both blocks, the vertical divisions of each apartment should be made more distinct along the communal balconies.
Therefore under the circumstances, the Society has concluded that since this proposal does not fully satisfy all the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion. ( 4.19, i, ii, and iii )
33 Grand Avenue Ref, No. 7-2016-5699-A
This is an application to build a small three story block of six flats on the site of a competently designed late nineteenth century suburban villa. It would be built in a similar style to the original structure – but of more varied materials and without chimneys – and include a canted three story bay window that ends in a gable in one corner of the pro0minent hipped roof. There would also be small dormers just above the principal and rear facades and the side elevations would contain a variety of single, double and triple, vertical windows.
The Society believe that although the replacement design quite closely follows the design of the existing structure, the overall, virtually complete visual character of Grand Avenue would be considerably degraded by the proposed building, which if allowed could herald the beginning of a progressive undermining of the existing aesthetic integrity of the road.
Thirty One letters from local residents have been received by local residents expressing fears that the new block of flats would be detrimental to the existing uniformity of the street scene; that the present attractiveness of Grand Avenue would be diminished and that conversion would certainly be a better alternative to run of the mill, modern flat replacement.
Under the circumstances we have concluded that although what is proposed is a reasonable design, because of the unique character of Grand Avenue, such a change should not be contemplated.
The Society therefore suggests that since this application does not fulfil the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. ( 4.19, i, ii, and iii )
23-23a Bournemouth Arcade Ref. No. 7-2016-6315-AI
This is an application to install a new, more symmetrically balanced shop front in place of the existing, much altered two shop fronts at the Gervis Place entrance to the Gervis Arcade –one of the most important historic sections of central Bournemouth and part of the Central Conservation Area.
The style of the new windows will be similar to the shop replacements that were carried out on the other side of the entrance to the Arcade in 2007 and the Society feel that these works will result in a huge improvement to the general appearance of the older buildings flanking the Arcade.
The new design envisages a new, more central entrance with three display windows either side. Further curved new windows in the same style would be constructed at ground floor level, following the circular shape of one of the Regency style towers that flank the Arcade entrance.
The Society recommends this imaginative piece of restoration without reservation and therefore since this proposal fulfils the conservation policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, we suggest that it be granted. (4.4, i, ii, and iii )
33-35 Old Christchurch Road: McDonalds Ref. No. 7-2016-1442-BI
This is an application by McDonalds to alter the appearance of the ground floor of a significant Art Deco style commercial building that was constructed during the inter war period and is within the Bournemouth Centre Conservation Area.
The changes would involve the removal of one of the two symmetrically positioned entrances and the complete covering of the original architectural features of the present exterior – including the pilasters – with green aluminium green foil.
The Society observes that in the Design Statement, the alterations proposed are classified as corporate reimaging in order to create a so called modern corporate identity for their burger chain. We can only conclude that we have seen no better example than this plan in which a large commercial organisation is absolutely determined to enforce its uniform and usually extremely unimaginative aesthetic values in circumstances which are nearly always totally inappropriate to the visual context.
The Society is therefore well aware that if this preposterous alteration were allowed it would drive a coach and horses right through the enlightened policy of Bournemouth Council to ensure the preservation – and where necessary the reconstruction – of the original ground floor appearance of historic shop premises . We feel that if these structural changes were carried out, there would be absolutely nothing left to distinguish the ground floor of the existing building from any other McDonalds in any other town throughout Great Britain.
We therefore most strongly urge the Planning Department to reject this irresponsible project; and so since the planning application in no way conforms to the conservation policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, we suggest that it is not granted. ( 4.4, i. ii, and iii )