SUBMITTED TO BOURNEMOUTH PLANNING DEPARTMENT DURING DECEMBER 2019 A CRITIQUE BY JOHN SOANE, BUILT ENVIRONMENT CONSULTANT TO BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY
Richmond Gardens (And the existing multi storey car park) Ref. No. 7-2019-1179-BG
This is an application to construct four residential blocks of up to 12 stories in height along the perimeter of Richmond Gardens on the north and east sides of the existing multi-storey car park at Richmond Gardens. There would also be a new roof top deck car park and improvement to the layout of the existing landscape.
The Society appreciate that this is a complex site because of its exposed position vis-a-vis the wider townscape perspective of central Bournemouth and the compatibility of buildings erected on this site in respect to the existing modernist structures of varying quality within the adjacent area. We note that previous rejected schemes were far too massive and monolithic and in our opinion made no attempt to balance financial aims with a plausible design.
The Society feels that while the existing contextual circumstances of the site make it almost inevitable that socio-economic factors will ensure that quite massive and high modern buildings are likely to be built eventually on this site we think it is essential that such a combination of structures should create, similar to down town Los Angeles, a linear, integrated sky line of modern architecture that can be seen as a visual enhancement to this very distinctive location.
We would therefore welcome, that in this application, some attempt is being made to go along this path. The design takes the form of four residential blocks; the two on the northern side of the site are roughly rectangular while the other two at the north east corner of the site are generally more square in appearance. However the dimensions of all four blocks are very individually shaped which enables each block to visually related to its neighbour. This possibility is enhanced by the built foot prints of the four structures which are neither in the form of narrow high rises, nor as large, multi-storey, elongated blocks. This design element is further enhanced by a variation in height of the buildings with a gradual reduction from the first block (A1) through (A2) and (B) to the last section (C) on a steeper gradient. And the further achievement of the new complex as a positive, visual element within the skyline of central Bournemouth may be observed in the pronounced verticality and symmetrical positioning of a very considerable number of fenestration designs for the individual flats. Excessive horizontality in this new ensemble is avoided; a characteristic that is aided by the quite distinctive rounded corners of the four buildings.
However, notwithstanding our generally positive comments given above, we would recommend that the proposed asymmetrical appearance of the individual flat facades in buildings A1 and A2 fronting Richmond Gardens to the north, be redesigned to allow a central space for each French Window with smaller, equally sized glass panels either side. Also the Society feels that the general visuality of the entire ensemble might be considerably improved if each structure was reduced by two or three stories. However as this plan is a marked improvement on its predecessors we prefer it to the plan that is being appealed.
Fairhaven Rest Home, 23 Knyveton Road, Ref. No. 7-2019-48565-AB
This is an application to demolish an existing rest home and to construct a new one to three storey care home specialising in dementia treatment on the site. The existing building, constructed in the 1960’s and subsequently extended, has no architectural significance whatever.
The built foot print of the new building would occupy the existing narrow site backing on to Knyveton Road and the additional section at right angles to the rear. The narrow principal elevation to the front consists of a brick façade with a modern belvedere tower and symmetrically positioned, vertical casement windows with a modern mansard roof with dormers above. The long side elevations. The long side elevations are chiefly distinguished by a series of mainly separate, vertical architectural elements framing vertical, ground and first floor fenestration. At the rear would be a covered way as a link to the two storied, rear, right angled wing which, apart from a modernist corner section, would consist of weather boarded walls, mainly framing asymmetrically designed, individual French window/balconies – co-ordinated in twos on both floors. Treatment facilities and individuals rooms would make up the greater part of the interior, with several flats in the mansard storey. The entire site is surrounded by well established thick landscape.
Irrespective of the exemplary use to which the new building would be put, the Society is not impressed by the quality of the design. The front façade makes the mistake nearly always a failure of attempting to combine elements of traditional design within a more modern structure. Also the extremely unimaginative design of the long side elevations gives the impression of an Art Deco factory façade on the London North Circular Road. In addition, we think the smaller wing to the rear gives the appearance overall of a very utilitarian design dating from the modernist hegemony of the 1960’s.
The Society suggests that a more linear working of the existing frigid front elevation should be done together with the complete individualisation of similarly designed fenestration/balcony elements that make up the side elevations of the main block and the north side of the rear building.
Therefore we have concluded that since this application does not fully comply with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused.
40 Keswick Road Ref. No. 7-2019-472-A
This is an application to demolish a bungalow that is part of a development of this form of housing from the 1960’s and its replacement by a dwelling house of two stories.
The new structure would be quasi-traditional form with two projections with imitation gables merging into a hipped roof. A large double garage would take up half the ground floor of the principal facade and the rear elevation would have fenestration typical of garden city post war housing estates.
The Society is struck by the extremely poor quality of the design and our feelings are echoed by the 12 communications on the proposal sent in by local residents. The main complaints are that the proposed build is too large for the adjacent lower level town scape; it would reduce privacy; restrict light and block a distant view of the sea. Consequently we have no hesitation in suggesting that this proposal be refused.
212 Castle Lane West Ref. No. 7-2019-24978-C
This is an application to construct a small two storey block of six flats on the site of a post war bungalow. It would be designed in modernised Arts and Crafts style and the principal façade would contain a wide projection and half timbered gable merging into a hipped roof.
As at 40 Keswick Road, the Society thinks that the problem is whether or not a new two storey residential structure should be allowed to intrude into an existing area made up mainly of bungalows. This question has also been taken up by local residents who feel the proposal is alien to the established character of the area as well as likely to bring further unwanted traffic to the local roads.
However since in various parts of Bournemouth the progress of higher density urban change might be considered a natural process, we would suggest that because this application does not clearly comply with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan it should be deferred for further discussion.
40 Wordsworth Avenue Boscombe Ref. No. 7-2019-10793-B
This is an application to build a conservatory on the foundations of an existing patio/balcony at first floor level of a detached, mid twentieth century house at Strouden Park. The construction would take the form of a metal frame with a hipped roof and be made up of rectangular glass panels. There has been much controversy and two appeals over the application for the patio and there are now 21 communications from local residents, generally complaining that the conservatory would be too dominant and overbearing and create a considerable lack of privacy for adjacent properties. The Society generally agrees with these sentiments and in consequent has concluded that since this application does not respect the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused.
10a, 11, 11a The Triangle/Norwich Road. Ref. No. 7-2019-8042-A
This is an application to make alterations to an existing nineteenth century property at the Triangle and to replace an existing workshop and residential accommodation within the rear courtyard that abuts on to Norwich Road. The work at the Triangle would consist mainly of refurbishing the existing street façade; but in the courtyard, the changes would consist of creating a two to three storey terraced façade to contain both the new workshop and the new house. Part of the latter would be built on a very narrow windowless space between existing buildings and in general because of the restricted interior space would have restricted light facilities in general. Car parking would be very tight and accessed at the side from an adjoining site.
The Society can see no problems in the renovation of the Triangle building or in replacing the new workshop; however we think the attempt to prolong residential use of what is an exceptionally small and unsuitable living area is completely out of order. Therefore we are of the opinion that since this application most certainly does not properly comply with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused.