PLANNING APPLICATIONS RECEIVED BY BOURNEMOUTH PLANNING DEPARTMENT DURING MAY 2018 – A CRITIQUE BY JOHN SOANE, BUILT ENVIRONMENT CONSULTANT TO BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY
Winter Gardens, Exeter Road Ref. No. 7-2-18-1273-AY
This amended application that has followed the general application for the development of the Winter Gardens site submitted in 2017, relates mainly to proposed changes in the aesthetic and visual appearance of the original designs and less to major changes in the fundamental shapes of the related buildings.
So far as the Civic Society can observe; the basic structure of the scheme, four high towers with appendages and with the two highest being in the centre of the site, remains generally unaltered.
However along the visually significant Exeter Road facade of the complex it would appear that the balconied floors en masse have been made into a somewhat better, streamlined element of the complete elevation there, even if the number of floors has not been reduced to six, as was originally hoped.
We see that the floors that are positioned between the corner tower at the junction of Exeter and Priory Roads and the Exeter Road façade have been given a much more precise, less stepped down appearance; but the tower itself – which English Heritage strongly condemned as being too bulky and an obstruction to the historic view over the Lower Pleasure Gardens – although now more elegantly shaped, remains too high and bulky for this position.
With regard to the two highest towers in the centre of the site, encompassing heights of up to 14/15 storeys , we note that there has been a reasonable amount of aesthetic enhancement.
In respect to the highest tower, there is now a better visual connection between a new projection encompassing the entire height of the building containing integrated balconies and the now more stepped down floors that connect with lower part of the structure. There is also more balanced co ordination between that section of the main facade that fronts the stepped down floors. There is now better integrated vertical fenestration and balcony design.
The Society observes that the appearance of the other central tower also has been improved in a similar way and that although the basic shape of the final tower – at the corner of Tregonwell and Cranbourne Roads remains the same, the visual impact of the lower wing is now less disruptive.
In spite of these improvements, the Society does not find this application suitable for the site and indeed its objections are very similar to many local comments; in particular the views express in a long and extremely well argued letter of objection signed by 24 residents from Tregonwell and Upper Terrance Road.
Generally speaking, apart from the inevitable worsening of parking problems, we find the general scale of what is proposed, excessively large and bulky for the relatively restricted site.
In particular we are of the opinion that far too many flats ( over 300 ) have been designed for the site and that rather too many mature trees may have to be sacrificed for the construction.
We certainly agree with the correspondents when they state that the unique historical nature of this part of central Bournemouth where there is a distinctive combination of terraces, villas and pleasure grounds will be very considerably changed by the adjacent construction of massive, mainly residential blocks.
It is also feared that if excessively large buildings were allowed at the Winter Gardens, this could set a precedent for similar structures in parts of the resort, at present unaffected by such visual changes.
The Society most especially wishes to say that simply because the Council has a partnership with private finance to enhance the urban regeneration of Bournemouth, this does not mean that it should abandon completely, the well established spatial restraints that have always governed urban expansion in the town centre for the last 150 years.
We feel strongly that the natural desire of a developer to obtain a good return on his investment should always be balanced by the long term aims of the Council to ensure that both the material AND aesthetic attractions in the centre remain popular with visitors, which together is the only way to ensure the continuing economic viability of the resort.
The Society therefore suggests that while the general spatial layout of the scheme should be kept, the mass and form of the actual buildings should be considerably reduced and more sensitively improved in appearance.
In particular, we think the height of the Exeter Road elevation should be lowered and so should the vertical impact of the proposed tower at the corner of Priory Road.
Therefore we have come to the conclusion 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, iii)
5-7 Clarendon Road Ref. No. 7-2018-2732-Z
This is an application to construct two, two and a half storey blocks of flats ( 11 X 2 bed units and 7 X 2 bed units ) in traditional late nineteenth century revivalist style on the site of two substantial post war family houses – neither of which being of exceptional architectural merit.
The Society observes that Clarendon Road – originally a place of substantial nineteenth century villas has evolved during the Twentieth Century into a reasonably acceptable melange of original properties, pre and post war Arts and Crafts detached houses and modernist and traditionally designed, blocks of flats.
Therefore since we feel that the smaller general scale of the twentieth century houses is not really compatible with the general size of the original building layout of this road, we favour the redevelopment of such properties at 5 and 7 and also 6 Clarendon Road, in the form of larger structures, as both a spatial and visual restoration of the original townscape proportions of this neighbourhood.
The built foot prints of the proposed blocks would be built on the site of the existing houses but would be larger in both mass and form than those of the existing structures.
The principal elevations of the new buildings would be in the form of historicist renditions of mansion blocks; one with two projections ending in large, half timbered gables , the other with just one. Above would be prominent hipped roofs with dormers and high chimneys. Fenestration mainly within two storey bays would be in the form of regularly positioned vertical windows with upper divisions and vertically orientated French windows with traditional balconies.
Although the Society accepts the comments of local residents that the relatively large number of flats proposed is somewhat excessive in comparison with the existing density of accommodation in the area and that traffic congestion is likely to increase; after mature consideration, we think that the general visual impact of the proposed blocks, taken in conjunction with the large and imposing gentleman’s residence “Toorak” nearby at 3 Clarendon Road, will restore considerably the original, quite grand character of this historic residential area which has suffered from uncoordinated visual change since the mid Twentieth Century.
The Society therefore feels that the larger mass and form of what is proposed is justified on aesthetic grounds.
Consequently we have decided that since this application takes proper note of the conservation policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be allowed. (Policy 4.4,i,ii,iii )
6 Clarendon Road Ref. No. 7-2018-7967-H
This application is for the construction of a three storey block of eight flats on the site of a substantial inter war detached family residence on a generous plot. The position is almost opposite 5 and 7 Clarendon Road where applications to build two historicist style mansion flat blocks are now pending.
The proposed new structure would also be designed in traditional nineteenth century mansion block style but although the built foot print would be larger than what now exists, it would not be built in quite so grand a manner. T
he general appearance of the property would be considerably influenced by the varying size and shape of substantial projections connected to the principal elevations and also the presence of a substantial hipped roof with dormers, above. Windows would be symmetrically placed on each projection – some within individual, ground floor bay windows – others on the first floor being provided with glass balconies.
The Society is of the opinion that although the new building would be more centrally positioned on the plot, the general quality of the design is generally inferior to what is proposed at 5 and 7 Clarendon Road, opposite.
Therefore since in addition, local residents have voiced concerns over the excessive number of flats proposed and the loss of family homes in the area; in these circumstance, given the higher architectural quality of the house to be demolished, we are prompted to ask whether alternative proposals could include the conversion of the existing property or the construction of a better designed flat block.
Therefore t he Society feels that because the conditions of the conservation policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan have not been fulfilled, this application should be refused ( Policy 4.4,i,ii,iii )
13 Durley Road Ref. No. 7-2018-1919 – BR
This is an application to construct a four and a half storey block of free market flats on the site of the Montague Hotel , originally a detached villa that was laid out with others in serpentine fashion when the original shape of the residential West Cliff was built after c.1870. The area lies within the West Cliff conservation area but the existing has been considerably altered over the years.
The new built footprint is not so different from what is now there but the general mass of what is proposed is larger. The building would be designed in the form of a mid to late nineteenth century, mansion block with late Romantic residual pretentions. Except for the somewhat more simplified northern elevation and the more asymmetrical east elevation, the west and south facades would each consist of a balanced combination of symmetrical projections with simple gables, prominent hipped roofs and large, Georgian style vertical windows – arched on the upper ground floor. The east elevation which combines a gabled projection with a two storey bay window; a narrower projection finely encompassed by the roof and the principal entrance approached by a short flight of stairs is especially noteworthy
Generally speaking the Society can find no fault in the design but we are rather concerned by the small size of the flats. However since the proposed structure is very close to the sea, it is likely that these flats could be used eventually as holiday accommodation – in effect hotel suites without the encumbrance of an hotel.
We have therefore concluded that since this application does not negate the conservation policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be allowed (Policy 4.4,i.ii.iii)
674-680 Wimborne Road, Moordown Ref. No. 7-2018-1919-BR
This is an application to construct a three storey block of self contained, student accommodation units in a three storey modern block that would be built on the side of and within the existing rear yard of a large commercial building facing Wimborne Road. The real wall of the new structure would be very close of the local YMCA.
The principal north facing elevation would be shaped principally by lines of rectangular shaped windows of varying sizes; several of which would project at an acute angle sideways from the wall. Part of the older adjoining building would also be incorporated and given new windows.
The Society is of the opinion that in so far as it goes, the modern design is relatively competent. However given the very high density of the existing buildings that surround this site, we feel strongly that what is proposed is totally unsuitable.
We think this is yet another example of an attempt to create substandard accommodation for university students in situations that were never designed for such use. The Society very much hopes that the extensive construction of purpose built student hostels in the vicinity of Oxford Road, Holdenhurst Road and the Lansdown, will gradually reduce the frequency of these unsuitable pieces of speculation.
We have decided therefore, that because this application completely disregards the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. (Policy 4.19,i,ii,iii )
61 Richmond Park Road Ref. No. 7-2018-27001
This is an application to construct a 2/3 storey block of 6 flats on the site of an existing residential structure. The new building would be in part Arts and Crafts style giving the form of a conventional family residence from the late Nineteenth Century. The majority of the facades would encompass single or double,vertical windows under a prominent hipped roof. The north east elevation to the street, would have wide projection complete with pan tiled and barge boarded gable and a two storied bay window.
The Society fully appreciates the fears of local residents who fear the general decline of a residential area now becoming too densely built over – with the subsequent increase in traffic, rubbish, noise and reduction of privacy.
However we note also that in the last twenty years, over the greater part of Richmond Park Road, the original villas have gradually been replaced , mainly by medium sized blocks of flats in traditional style.
Therefore under the circumstances, we think it would be very difficult for the latest redevelopment proposal to be automatically turned down. We therefore suggest that local residents should discuss the more detailed aspects of the design with the developers in the hope of reaching a satisfactory resolution of outstanding problems.
And so the Society has concluded that since this application does not unduly disturb the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be allowed. (Policy 4.19,i,ii,iii )