PLANNING APPLICATIONS RECEIVED BY THE BOURNEMOUTH PLANNING DEPARTMENT DURING MAY 2017 – A CRITIQUE BY JOHN SOANE, BUILT ENVIRONMENT CONSULTANT TO BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY
17a Christchurch Road Ref. No. 7-2017-1332-AA
This is an application to construct a four/ seven storey building for the accommodation of university students in the form of 213 residential units in two, three and four bedroom clusters. This would involved the demolition of a block of modern commercial units of no architectural importance.
The proposed structure would comprise a neo-modernist block in the form of a rectangular shaped principal block towards Christchurch Road together with a pronounced, narrower projection of four storeys connected with the main rear facade. The principal elevation would be designed to give the impression that the seven storey building would consist of three exceptionally tall floors by means of very deep, vertical lighting strips. The ground floor would be framed by narrow concrete strips in the form of an artificial loggia and although there is a degree of asymmetricality in the overall positioning of the fenestration, the overall visual impression is of a balanced ensemble. The top storey would be in the form of a penthouse with rectangular windows. However the design of the side elevations is more fractured: there is a blank wall towards Christchurch Road and further along is a projecting section with vertical windows similar, but on a smaller scale to, the principal elevation. The height of the side elevations of the rear projection decrease as the number of floors also decrease.
The Society is of the opinion that considering the number of modern buildings that exist and are now being constructed in the vicinity of this part of Christchurch Road, the modern style of the proposed building is appropriate, However we would suggest the following improvements: the rather eclectic design of the blank walling on the side elevations and to some degree on the rear elevation should be redesigned in a more balanced manner; also since the southern side of this section of Christchurch Road as far as the Landsdowne , generally is not so high as the opposite side of Christchurch Road , the new construction should be one or two storeys lower.
Consequently, we feel that since this application does not satisfy the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. ( Policy 4.19, i, ii, and iii )
130 Alumhurst Road and 4 Sandbourne Road Ref. No . 7-2017-4751-X
This is an application to build five detached and two semi-detached, family houses on a corner site at the top of Alum Chine. The houses would be constructed on the site of two larger family houses which were designed as part of the original layout of this residential neighbourhood in 1929. All the houses would occupy smaller, rectangular or square plots in a modern interpretation of the Arts and Crafts Style. Two houses are three bays wide; three are two bays wide and the pair of semi detached houses one and a half bays wide. All the houses have prominent hipped roofs and with the exception of the relatively plain facades of the semi-detached houses, the principal elevations of the remainder have either projections or two storey bay windows ending in prominent gables. The fenestration in the form of double or triple, vertical sash windows with upper divisions is well integrated into the facades. Entrances below porches are either in the centre or to the side of the principle elevations; the ground floors of the rear facades include French windows.
The Society has concluded that although the actual design in absolute terms, of these houses is quite competent, the size and scale of this new housing complex is visually incompatible with the visual spatiality of the adjacent townscape. The latter was planned for houses to be surrounded by quite spacious plots but if what is planned in this application were built, the general character of this pleasant residential neighbourhood would be degraded considerably. Furthermore there would be a considerable reduction of privacy and there would hardly be sufficient room on the much smaller sites for both an adequate garden and less than sufficient car parking spaces in an area that is already chronically short of parking facilities.
These were also the principal concerns of 22 letters of general comment sent in by local residents many of whom felt it was high time that the council adopted more effective policies to protect well established residential neighbourhoods such as Alum Chine from piecemeal urban conversion and redevelopment that results in yet smaller and less attractive places to live.
The Civic Society fully echoes these fears; we certainly think the Planning Department should exert more control to prevent the excessive over development of existing, developed sites. If this problem is not tackled soon, then the equitable balance between built on and un built on space which is such a distinctive feature of Bournemouth will eventually be lost.
With regard to the application in hand we suggest that the existing houses are converted into flats or the number of proposed new houses be reduced to four.
Consequently the Society feels that since this application most certainly does not meet all the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. ( Policy 4.19, i, ii, and iii )
2 Benellen Avenue Ref. No. 7-2017-4108-CM
This is an application for the demolition of a quite recently erected modern family residence and the construction of a pair of semi detached houses.
The built footprint would be somewhat larger in the form of a large rectangle; the ground floor would contain the living rooms and the first and upper storeys, the bedrooms. Fenestration would consist of one/two light vertical windows with French windows on the ground floor and with a penthouse above.
The Society feels that although the new structure is basically modern, it bears a distinctive ambience in respect to a small regency villa and is a most considerable improvement on the structure that at present occupies the site. There have been complaints that the new building does not look very like the more traditionally designed properties nearby. However we would suggest that if built this new property would strike a reasonable balance with the recently built, small flat block on the opposite corner between Prince of Wales and Branksome Wood Roads.
Therefore we have decided that since this application fulfils the majority of the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be allowed. ( Policy 4.19, i,0 ii, and iii )
520-524 Wimborne Road Ref. No. 1129-J
This is an application to convert the existing disused old Winton Fire Station/disabled servicemens’ workshops at the top of Saint Peters Hill, Moordown, into retail facilities and ten flats. The original building was designed in quite an elaborate neo baroque style in the early Twentieth Century and the principal facade built in finely cut stone has a wide central entrance, two side entrances crowned by baroque style carving and mullioned windows on the first floor. In the new plans, most of the ground floor would be given over to commercial use and flats would be created up above. A new extension in the modernist style would be created at the rear for further flats and the fenestration would be provided by prominent horizontal windows at higher levels for the first and second floors.
Having carefully observed the proposals, the Society has concluded that the new rear extension in form, mass and architectural design is simply not compatible with the original structure. We think that the shape of the extension is far too bulky in relation to the existing building and in particular the excessive crass modernist windows contrast very badly with the arched blank arcading along the side elevations of the old fire station.
There have been considerable local fears that this application is another example of the over development of existing built up sites with all the attendant extra pressure on car parking. Also that the alterations needed to create flats in the older building would be detrimental to the original historic facade. We take these points into consideration and endorse them, but in addition we would suggest especially that if an extension is to be built of roughly the same size as what is now proposed, there should be a far better co ordination of height levels between the two different parts of the building and that the modern windows should bear a much greater resemblance to the mullioned, vertical fenestration of the principal elevation.
Under the circumstances, the Society think that since this application does not comply with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. ( Policy 4.19, i, ii, and iii )
114-120 Charminster Road Ref. No. 7-2017-8050-C
This is an application to create an approximate one third extension to existing commercial and residential premises further into the rear yard of the site in order to both retain the two existing restaurants and to convert the two flats above into eight flats. The Society feel that the new extension is architecturally and proportionally quite well designed with dormers in the roof, vertical windows and French windows and a loggia on the rear extension facade. A further entrance and exit to the property would be made from Shelbourne Road. We note that there are commercial rear yards and back gardens all around this site. We accept that the proposed built footprint of the new extension would just about enable the existing balance in the area of built to un built on space to be maintained. However the Society would be happier if the planned extension were two to three metres shorter and the number of flats reduced to about four or five.
Under the circumstances we think that since this application does not properly fulfil the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. (Policy 4.19, i, ii, and iii )
217 ( 219, 221 a and b ) Old Christchurch Road Ref. No. 7-2017-1058-Y
This is an application to construct a three storey block of five flats – probably to serve as student accommodation. The building, to be designed in the modernist style, would be placed in an open area nearly completely surrounded by a densely built up series of late nineteenth century commercial and residential premises and would be placed in one corner of this site adjacent to a planned, larger student accommodation block to the north fronting Lansdowne Lane. The new structure would be in the form of a concrete box with vertical modern windows on all floors facing on to the remainder of the site.
The Society has concluded that this application might be reasonably considered to be a piece of copycat speculation in respect to recent applications in the Lansdowne area for the construction of further student accommodation to serve the developing new campus of Bournemouth University. We feel that this new building would not only be an overdevelopment in an already, densely built up, older urban area; also in form and appearance it would be visually extremely incompatible with the adjacent townscape. Further, It has been suggested that the present narrow entrance to this site from Old Christchurch Road would be insufficient to take the increased traffic and pedestrians from the new block; in addition it has been pointed out by others that the company behind the development has a poor record of property maintenance.
Consequently, the Society has concluded that since this application does not comply with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. (Policy 4.19, i, ii, and iii )
Wotton House, Wotton Mount Ref. No. 7-2017-328-G
This is an application to construct a five storey block of 52 student bedrooms in the form of 1/2/3 bed clusters on quite a spacious site above Wotton Gardens and adjacent to the large flat sites in Bath Road. Entry would be by a road from Wotton Mount.
Unlike the above application for 217 Old Christchurch Road, the Society believes that in respect to this application there is sufficient space for a larger block of student accommodation. The structure would be neo-modernist in design and consist of austere, rectangular architectural elements – interspersed by glass balconies and lit by very prominent, modern, horizontal windows. While we fully appreciate that a contemporary building is appropriate at this site; since the new building must relate both to older, nineteenth century buildings near Old Christchurch Road and the modern flat blocks in Bath Road, it should be given a more sensitive form and visual appearance.
The Society would also suggest to the Bournemouth Planning Department that while the construction of further residential student blocks is appropriate on sites in the close vicinity of the Lansdowne, they should not be allowed in any way to disturb the adjacent, premier holiday area of the East Cliff.
We have therefore concluded that since this application does not comply with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion. (Policy 4.19, i, ii, and iii )