PLANNING APPLICATIONS RECEIVED BY THE BOURNEMOUTH PLANNING DEPARTMENT DURING JULY 2016 – A CRITIQUE BY JOHN SOANE, BUILT ENVIRONMENT CONSULTANT TO BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY
Punshon Memorial Church Site, Exeter Road: Ref. No. 7-2016-643-U
This is an application to construct in neo modernist style, a 6/7 story block of 97 flats (with retail outlets on the ground floor facing Exeter Road ) on the site of the recently demolished Punshon Memorial Church.
Irrespective of the quality of the proposed design, the Civic Society is well aware that the exigencies of the war time destruction of the original Punshon Church on Richmond Hill was probably the main reason for the construction of the Punshon Memorial Church on a site – originally part of the grounds of the Royal Exeter Hotel , which under normal circumstances, would never have been considered suitable for a major building.
Moreover we are of the opinion that only the unprecedented cultural circumstances of the post war era would have allowed such a structure to be constructed within such an historic part of central Bournemouth, in such an uninhibited and radical, modernist style. It is therefore not so surprising that the present redevelopers, in attempting to follow the built foot print and visual imprint of the demolished church, should wish to perpetuate the same general modernist forms.
The present application – the third for the site – consists of a large rectangular structure of 6/7 stories in which the principal north and south elevations consist of many glass panels – interleaved with insubstantial vertical supports and with the glass areas divided into insignificant, vertical shapes. Along the concrete divisions of each floor run continuous glass balconies; there is an indented penthouse just below the flat roof and part of the retail ground floor along Exeter Road is faced with a selection of (artificial ?) stone and brick. The shorter east/west elevations consist of a series of part/asymmetrically positioned, vertical windows of varying sizes and a fair proportion of unsymmetrically intruded stone and brick cladding. The upper two floors are stepped down at the western corner near the Royal Exeter Hotel.
The Society is of the opinion that just as with the previous two applications, the form and mass of this latest application are completely out of order for this important location. Far from being complimentary to the existing important historical buildings (the Royal Exeter Hotel and the Punshon Memorial Hotel), as claimed in the design statement, we are certain that if built, the structure would hugely intrude upon these adjacent hotels and ruin the entire visual context of this important part of central Bournemouth – including the future setting of the International Hotel planned for the opposite side of Exeter Road. In effect we think that this significant seafront area would be completely dominated by a most boring and banal structure no different from many recently built blocks of flats all instantly forgettable.
The Society therefore suggests that a less grandiloquent design which respects and combines some of the older architectural forms of the adjacent hotels would be a far better adornment for this exceptional site.
Consequently, we have concluded that since this application does not appear to respect all the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be rejected. (4.19, i, ii, and iii)
28 Tregonwell Road : Ref. No. 7-2016-1367-G
This application is for the conversion and extension of an existing mid to late nineteenth century family villa, at present used as six flats, into a block of ten self-contained flats. A separate garage-coach house would also become a flat. The site lies in the West Cliff Conservation Area on back land and would be reached by a drive beside a neighbouring house near the junction of Tregonwell and Cranborne Roads. The existing building, which has been somewhat altered over the years, has some pretentions to nineteenth century, Romantic gentility including a striking oriel window on the west elevation.
The general area and square shape of the building would be expanded by one third and the various unsympathetic alterations, especially on the west side by means of pitched roofed extensions within the same general genre of the existing building – together with a number of more artistically designed and positioned, casement windows and further French windows. However we think that the original, Romantic proportions of the building would be changed for ever.
For what it sets out to achieve, the new shape is not that ugly – but the Society feels that the resulting structure will no longer be able to make an original contribution to the appearance of one of the least altered, earliest nineteenth century vistas in Central Bournemouth.
The Planning Department must consider seriously whether to allow the further conversion of older buildings which in effect are applications for the creation of new structures in historical disguise. The Victorian Society has already commented on the negative effects of this tendency on the West Cliff.
In effect we think what has to be decided is whether some properties can be visually and economically improved by considerable alterations or whether their architectural qualities make it essential that they be archeologically restored as near as possible to how they were originally built.
Under the circumstances the Society has concluded that since the application does not fully conform to the Conservation Area Policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion and a much improved and smaller scheme. (4.4,i, ii, and iii)
11-17 Wycliffe Road : Ref. No. 7-2016-26294
This is an application to build three, one and a half story, small houses, parallel to each other in the rear garden of an existing, late nineteenth century, semi-detached property.
Each house will be in the form of an old workman’s cottage with a pitched roof, a dormer, casement windows – but with French windows at the rear.
Although the Society feels that the general appearance of the new buildings is appropriate to the location, we think that three properties would be an over development of this restricted site. Indeed we ask the Planning Department to take steps to prevent the recent trend by developers to try and build houses at the rear of small, already developed sites, that were never designed for further conversion. We therefore suggest that if development is to take place, it should be limited to two houses.
Consequently we conclude that because the full conditions of the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan have not been met, this application should be rejected. ( 4.19, i, ii, and iii )
Medina Lodge, Dunbar Road: Ref. No. 7-2016-4342-X
This is an application to build a two/three story block of 9 flats within the Meyrick Park Conservation Area, on the site of a large, and not very inspiring, family house that was built during the 1960’s, in the then fashionable, modernist style.
The built footprint of the proposed building is about one third larger than the average size of those of adjacent properties and the principal elevation displaying a hipped roof, symmetrical casement windows and half timbering, is in the style of a prosperous Tudor yeoman’s residence from the Sixteenth Century. The rear elevation is, however, quite modern with extensive, ground floor French windows and first floor Juliet balconies.
Generally speaking, in view of the fact that the existing property was the only inharmonious structure in an area of fine, turn of the century, Arts and Crafts, family houses, the Society is quite satisfied by the general design of this proposal. However although the overall asymmetrical appearance of the side elevations are also quite acceptable, they are excessively long – given the general shape of neighbouring houses; and if built a reduction of light and privacy could result.
We therefore suggest that a good solution would be the reduction in the number of proposed flats to six which would thereby improve the overall exterior appearance of the new structure.
Consequently we recommend that since this application does not fulfil all the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion. ( 4.4, i, ii, and iii )
411 Wimborne Road: Ref. No. 7-2016-10214-D
This is an application to build/reconstruct an existing retail unit and 15 flats in a new block extending back into the long rear yard of the property.
An extra short storey would be added to the shop facade and the flats would be contained in a large rectangular block containing modernist style casement windows and resembling the less exclusive, stuccoed, smaller blocks of flats that were built in Bournemouth during the inter-war period.
The Society strongly feel that the mass, form and appearance of the flat block is totally inappropriate for the relatively lower density, commercial townscape of Wimborne Road. Moreover, as far as we can see, there has been no attempt to create an integrated design; and this can be observed in the heightening of the shop facade, where the proportions of the extra story do not in any way `synthesise in a pleasing manner with the appearance of the floors below.
We would therefore suggest to the Planning Department that such applications be strongly resisted in order to prevent further attempts by developers to erode the basic visual elements and social cohesion of the older established commercial areas of Bournemouth.
Consequently after proper consideration, the Society has decided that since this application in no way abides by the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. (4.19,i, ii and iii )
32 Winston Road: Ref. No 7-2016-3866-A
This is an application to build a small two story house in suburban, inter war style complete with bay window and pitched roof. It would be built within the lower part of the rear garden of an existing property that stands at the junction of Winston and Bankside Roads.
The Society thinks that since over 50% if the site would be built upon, there is hardly sufficient land for a house – even a small one – to be built at this location.
Several letters of complaint fearing that the quiet character of the neighbourhood would be degraded by the construction of the new property, have been received. Again may we draw the attention of the Planning Department to the present environmental danger of allowing too many small sites in older residential areas to be over developed by excessive numbers of extra properties. A working and viable policy on this important matter could surely be worked out and applied.
The Society has therefore decided 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 )
80 Holdenhurst Road: Ref. No. 8189-AR
This is an application to construct a two story entrance and atrium (with staircase) – together with a connecting gallery on the adjacent long elevation – alongside the present main entrance on the side elevation of a large, 10 story office block, built during the 1970’s.
The new extension would be simply designed in the modernist style and consist of large glass panels held together by steel and concrete vertical stanchions and capped by an enveloping concrete collar.
Although this extension is in the modernist style and adjacent to a range of late nineteenth century traditional buildings, the Society is pleased to observe that in strictly architectural/proportional terms, the new proposal will considerably dilute the present aesthetic abruptness of the ten story office block in relation to the lesser mass and scale of the adjacent buildings in Holdenhurst Road. Indeed we are aware that the practice of disguising the insensitive impact of high rises at ground level by means of smaller structures more in tune with the restricted proportions of the surrounding townscape, has become standard practice in a number of large urban locations over recent years.
The Society therefore feels that because this application observes the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be allowed. ( 4.19, i, ii and iii )
6 Merlewood Close: Ref. No. 7-2016-526-CB
This is an application to construct a 4 storey block of 7 flats on the site of a modern detached family house built during the post war era. The proposed structure would be in the form of a large rectangular block, not so very different in mass and form from the two previous applications for this site.
The principal elevation is made up of three inter-related rectangular shapes; two such projections, delimited by prominent concrete collars, are connected to the larger main facade and – glass panels with glass balconies are inserted across the entire elevation. The first three stories of the rear elevation is a combination of a central section with traditional wall and window form – with glass panels either side and a top story with rectangular fenestration. There is also weatherboarding at this level here, as also in vertical sections on the principal elevation.
Irrespective of the Report for a previous planning appeal on this site which states that it is architecturally appropriate for a modernist building to be constructed on the site in question, the Society completely rejects the visual reasoning of the inspector.
On the contrary, we strongly feel that it would be aesthetically very detrimental for a block of flats, generally similar in mass and form to the adjacent blocks of flats in Saint Valerie Road to be built at the far end of Merlewood Close. This site is an essential part of the low rise development of the former Wychwood School Estate that was laid out in the 1970’s and is part of the Meyrick Park Conservation Area. In no way can this location be considered merely as an extension of the high rise townscape beyond the dense vegetation that seperates Merlewood Close from Saint Valerie Road.
In addition, the Society also believes that the site in question, far from being of no architectural significance, is, in its present modern-vernacular form , the perfect visual foil for the modest, semi-detached houses that have been built on the east side of Merlewood Close. Therefore we think the excessive scale and disruptive style of the proposed building would have a most negative effect both on the appearance and the present, family character of the area. And these considerations, including fears about parking and loss of privacy have been echoed by 16 letters of objection by local home owners.
Therefore in recommending the unsuitability of this project, we strongly urge the Planning Department not to be too influenced by the distant attitudes of civil servants but be more moved by the local people that live closely by the site in question.
Under the circumstances, since this application does not fulfil the conservation policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, the Society recommends it be refused. ( 4.4, i, ii, and iii )
22a Ridley Road: Ref. No. 7-2016-9439-A
This is an application to build a small pair of one and a half storey, semi-detached houses in the rear garden of an existing property that would be reached via the existing drive of 22 Ridley Road.
The building would be constructed in the restrained style of a nineteenth century workman’s cottage and the principal facade would encompass both entrances, modern double sash windows either side and double dormers above in a pitched roof.
Generally speaking for environmental and social reasons, the Society is against the present trend whereby some developers attempt to construct minute properties at the rear of existing developed sites. In this case, we are given to understand that a local builder wishes to use the long existence of a now defunct commercial structure on the site of the proposed houses as a precedent for the new development.
In spite of this proviso, the Society still think the site could be too small to take a fresh property and there is also local opposition to the general mass and form of the new structure.
Consequently we feel that under the circumstances, since this application does not fully satisfy the townscape conditions of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion. ( 4.19, i, ii, and iii )
Aspen Licet Holdings, Exeter Road, Units UG6 and LGB: Ref. No. 7-2016-2052-BM
This is an application to allow flexible planning permission to be granted for both a restaurant and a casino in two of the retail units in the new multiplex leisure centre between the Lower Pleasure Gardens and Exeter Road.
The units would be situated in that part of the building that abuts Exeter Road and Exeter Crescent and so far the Society can see, would not involved any outside changes to the structure.
We are of the opinion that the existing number of casinos in the town centre is quite sufficient for the requirements of visitors who are in need of such facilities. In addition the Society also thinks that in order that Bournemouth may continue to promote itself as a first class, family holiday resort, permission should be granted for the operation of a restaurant only.
Consequently we have decided that since this application does not fully satisfy the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion. ( 4.19, i, ii, and iii )
9 Yelverton Road : Ref. No. 7-2016-2053-AW
This is an application to construct a pair of black lacquered, decorative steel gates across the original main entrance of the New Royal Theatre in Albert Road, built in 1882 and currently used as a casino.
The Society observes that in contrast to the elaborate, neo-baroque design of the upper part of the principal theatre facade, the present appearance of the ground floor of this facade is visually very depressing and considerably neglected. We therefore feel that the new gate will improve considerably the visual impact of the old theatre building and also prevent the further degradation of the old main entrance which is currently utilised by rough sleepers and for other more improper purposes. We also think that in view of the extensive renovation and rebuilding of the opposite side of Albert Road, the new gates can only further enhance the general character of this central Conservation Area. We understand that the old main entrance will continue to be used as an emergency fire exit.
Therefore the Society is of the opinion that since this application fully abides by the conservation policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be granted. (4.4, i, ii, and iii )