PLANNING APPLICATIONS RECEIVED BY BOURNEMOUTH PLANNING DEPARTMENT DURING DECEMBER 2018 . A CRITIQUE BY JOHN SOANE, BUILT ENVIRONMENT CONSULTANT TO BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY
New School – Stafford Road, Maderia Road and Lansdown Road Ref. No. 7-2018-8363-G
This is a major application to build a new educational academy serving children between 4 and 19 years by the Livingstone Educational Trust. With the exception of the listed, early twentieth century, neo-baroque, Old Court Building in Stafford Road, the new structures in modernist style would be constructed on the site of all the adjacent late nineteenth/mid twentieth century buildings, recently used by Bournemouth Police and Bournemouth Magistrates, which would be demolished.
The Society notes that as a result of the considerable recent increase in the number of children of school age living in the more central areas of Bournemouth, the need for a new school in an accessible position in the town has become more urgent. We therefore accept that the old police station site is a reasonable place for the new educational facilities. We note that the historic and listed Court building would be transformed into class rooms for the Sixth Form, the adjacent modernist 1960’s Crown Court extension would become the new Primary School, while the new build extension along Maderia Road would house the Secondary School classes.
The principal facade along Maderia Road would consist of a five storey horizontal block punctuated by groups of large standard sized square windows which would be divided by large scale asymmetrical vertical fenestration elements in the centre. On the corner of Maderia/Stafford Roads would be a three storey wing with deeply hooded windows towards Stafford Road and extensive walling and irregular fenestration towards Maderia Road. The design of the courtyard side of the new school would be made up of architectural elements taken from the Maderia Road elevation and in respect to the modernist crown court extension little visual change would be contemplated.
The Society is of the opinion that while fully approving the planned extensive restoration of the facade of the listed Old Court Building we do not think that the new construction does much to enhance further the aesthetic context of this historic structure. Irrespective of the grandiloquent claim that what would be built would greatly improve the quality of the existing general environment and would harmonize with the adjacent townscape; the fact remains that the greater part of the site would be covered by public buildings designed in a catch all, government approved, not especially original, contemporary modernist style. But even if the existence of the existing crown court extension in Stafford Road and the presence of several recently built, modernist structures at the junction of Maderia and Landsdown Roads are an obvious invitation to build in a modernist idiom on this site; the Society believes this certainly does not excuse the absence of visual imagination and better design.
For a start, we are strongly against the demolition of the elegant Old Police Station , a pleasing structure in Anglo-Dutch, seventeenth century neo-baroque style which we believe is large enough to be turned into viable school premises. Moreover even if the overall proportions of the large replacement new build block might be reasonably acceptable, the mechanistic positioning of the square windows and the un-coordinated central fenestration, are we think, further design mistakes. Finally the Society feels that the mass and architectural form of the side elevation of the principal facade at the corner of Stafford Road is far too insensitive in relation to the Old Court House. In addition we are certain that the heavily shaded windows on the corner of this elevation are visually unnecessary and may well restrict sunlight on cloudy days.
Therefore we suggest an overall more integrated approach: modern certainly, but with a greater intuitive respect for the general classical cannons of architectural form as seen in the Old Court House. Thus we think a symmetrically structured principal facade with balancing three storey wings at each extremity along Maderia Road ( if decided upon ) would be an improvement together with a more regular fenestration scheme. However we also think that it is possible to enhance the appearance of windows in the centre without unbalancing the overall wall to window ration of the entire elevation. We also think that the area of playground space allowed to the pupils in the courtyard area of the site is insufficient. We are certain that this could be increased by the reduction of the width and the rearranging of the positions of some of the built elements at the rear of the site.
Therefore after mature consideration the Society has decided that since this application does not properly fulfil the conditions of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused or deferred for further improvement. ( Policies 4.19,i,ii,iii)
Punshon Memorial Church site, Exeter Road Ref. No.7-2018-643-W
This is an application to construct a one to seven storey block of 85 flats and retail facilities on the site of the demolished Puncheon Memorial Church. The site has been subject to previous planning interests.
The new building would be in the form of a generally rectangular block but with each floor creating a stepped appearance of different lengths on the western side elevation. The principal elevation, above the larger retail openings on the ground floor, would consist of six very similar floors fronted by large vertical glass panels and set in front of prominent communial glass balconies which would support by means of regularly spaced supports, a common loggia for each floor. There would be a flat roofed penthouse above and in both the side and rear elevations vertical windows/glass panels would be more prominent due to the absence of prominent balconies.
The Society strongly feel that in its excessive mass and form and in the unimaginative architectural design of its facades this new proposed building is totally unsuitable for the very distinctive location in which it would be set. If it were built we are certain it would create a most negative spatial disorientation in respect to the more proportionally balanced listed buildings either side: the Royal Exeter Hotel and the Punshon House Hotel. Since the appearance of what is proposed is little better than the uninspiring and banal flat architecture of the 1960’s; if built, we think it would stick out like a sore thumb with negligible perception for the historical value of the area. We also feel that 85 flats is far too large a number of accommodation units for the size of the site.
The Society would therefore suggest, certainly a modern building but in deference to its neighbours, a structure with a more integrated design in which a reduction of height and a balanced synthesis of verticality with horizontality, without modernist ziggurat fads, all combining to allow a far better replacement to rise on the site of the Punshon Memorial Church.
We have therefore decided that since this application falls considerably below the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. (Policy 4.19,i,ii,iii )
3 Southbourne Coast Road Ref. No. 7-2018-19611-E
This is an application to build a two and a half storey block of two semi-detached houses on the site of an existing mid-twentieth century bungalow of some architectural pretension. The proposed structure would be rectangular and the principal seaward elevation would consist of four sets of symmetrically positioned French windows, the first floor with divided Juliet balconies and large dormers in the double gabled hipped roof. The rear elevation would be simpler with regularly positioned vertical windows.
On the one hand the Society realises that the gradual replacement of bungalows in this part of the Bournemouth Overcliff, over time could erode the existing low density spatial setting and social structure of the existing townscape. At the same time we appreciate that there has been a particular trend in recent years towards the construction in places of higher density structures in this area. We would suggest that the best way of solving what form of future development might eventually be allowed is to be guided by the particular spatial circumstances of the application. Thus in this case the proposed size of the form and mass of the new building can be regarded as a visual stepping stone between the small bungalows that continue further east and the larger apartment building recently constructed. We would however advise that the large six pane French windows on the principal facade be divided up into less block looking shapes. Therefore under the circumstances, the Society recommends that because this application has not completely satisfied the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan it should be deferred for further improvement rather than be refused. ( Policy 4.19, i.ii.iii )
58 Harewood Avenue, Ref. No 7-2018-23260-B
This is an application to demolish a single mid twentieth century family bungalow and replace it with a pair of semi-detached bungalows. The general design would be a fairly conventional semi tradition shape with French windows and a hipped roof.
The Society asks itself whether it is right to begin increasing the density of somewhat larger buildings on plots that were originally designed for single plot use by family bungalows. In this respect our views are similar to local opinion where there is also the fear that if this and further applications of this kind were allowed there would be an unwelcome increase in traffic and more to the point, valuable green space would be lost by means of “garden grabbing” whereby hither to limited portions of un built on land around existing buildings would be excessively developed by multiple residential structures. In view of this we consider this application falls short of the requirements of the Bournemouth Local Plan and so should be refused. ( Policy 4.19, i.ii.iii )