PLANNING APPLICATIONS RECEIVED BY BOURNEMOUTH PLANNING DEPARTMENT DURING SEPTEMBER AND PART OCTOBER 2016 – A CRITIQUE BY JOHN SOANE, BUILT ENVIRONMENT CONSULTANT TO BOURNEMOUTH CIVIC SOCIETY
45a – 47a Branksome Wood Road Ref. No. 7-2016-8340-M
This is an application to construct a modern, three storey block of 14 flats on the site of two existing houses. The shape of the proposed structure would be in the form of a large rectangle of an angular appearance, stretching across both sites. On the principal elevation there would be two projections, symmetrically positioned and encased in distinctive concrete frames. The majority of the fenestration would be in the form of large, rectangular windows faced by concrete and glass balconies. The top floor would consist of an arrangement of French windows, smaller windows and conventional doors opening on to `a common balcony with a flat roof above.
The Civic Society considers the general design of the proposal to be very unimaginative, even banal and totally inappropriate to be placed amongst structures of more traditional design within a mature, residential neighbourhood. Indeed we think the poor co-ordination of the appearance of the third floor could bear a passing resemblance to the design of some social housing from the 1950’s.
Not surprisingly, 16 letters expressing alarm over the proposed development have been received. There is much criticism over the proposed design; that it would not blend in with existing property and that the general character of this part of Branksome Wood Road would be destroyed with the consequent loss of too many family houses. There were also fears that the new built footprint would leave too narrow a gap with the eastern boundary of the site and that there was insufficient provision for the extra parking spaces that would be needed.
Under the circumstances the Society feels that since this planning proposal in no way complies with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. ( 4.19, i, ii, and iii )
1 Lorne Park Road Ref. No. 7-2016-2035-H
This is an application to build a four storey block of 20 flats in the style of a late nineteenth century mansion block of apartments.
The proposal would be in the form of a massive rectangular block and the principal elevation to the south would be faced by three distinctive projections that would support three prominent gables that in turn would be incorporated into an elaborate, pitched and spiky roof. Vertical windows, including gable windows fenestration and dormers, would be regularly positioned across the facade.
According to the Design Statement, the original intention for the site was to add an additional storey to the existing building to create a smaller block of flats. However modern residential redevelopment at 4,6 and 8, Lorne Park Road had encouraged the developers to put in for a larger structure extending the existing built footprint to the side of the site. It was felt that the new block would retain a sufficient amount of the character of the original building to fit comfortably into the existing street scene.
The Society does not agree with this deduction. We feel that although the proposed development would be constructed in the historicist style of the late Nineteenth Century; the scale of the structure and the stylistic characteristics create a resemblance nearer to the contemporary mansion blocks of Hammersmith or Fulham than to the more domestic scale of residential development then going up in Bournemouth.
We therefore suggest that the existing building on the site , along with other adjacent properties of the same date, should be preserved as a complete piece of nineteenth century architecture for the benefit of the town.
Consequently the Society has 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 )
Former Belvedere Hotel, 14 Bath Road Ref. No. 7-2016-5940-S
This is an application to build an eleven storey tower hotel and a seven storey block of 44 flats on the site of the former Belvedere Hotel – a much extended and altered Arts and Crafts building, built in the early Twentieth Century and boarded by Parsonage Road, Bath Road and St. Peter’s Road. The hotel premises are at present unoccupied and have been subject to vandalism.
In visual terms this is very important site, being the meeting point of relatively high rise modernist architecture on one side of Bath Road; interwar eclectic styles on Bath Hill and beyond and a mixture of generally late nineteenth/ twentieth century hotels and residential structures on the East Cliff.
In these circumstances the Society is of the opinion that a strong emphasis on any particular style for the new development would not be appropriate and has concluded that the two contrasting architectural shapes of a rectangle and a broad tower designed in a restrained and academic, modern style would be the best visual solution for the site.
The most distinctive elements of the two principal facades of the tower hotel – which face Bath and St. Peter’s Roads – are the narrow, grid like, concrete divisions which encompass the deep vertical windows on two stories at once . This form of cladding created a foreshortened height perspective on the towers and so prevents the full number of hotel floors from creating a sense of excessive un proportional height. There are also subtle differences in the basic window shape between the Bath Road and St. Peter’s Road elevations and in the prominent penthouse story, the window encasements on the Bath Road side are seamlessly transformed into a spacious loggia.
The lower, seven storey, apartment block is in the form of a large rectangle with a smaller, four storey extension to the north. With the exception of the ground floor, which by means of its several entrances, is devoted to public space, the upper floor facades – including the penthouse storey are made up of individual apartment patios divided from each other and all sharing a prominent, white communal balcony on each floor.
Generally speaking, the Civic Society welcomes and approves of the planning proposals outlined in this Planning Application. In particular the hotel tower balances the British Telecom Tower on the other side of St. Peter’s Road and yet is both sufficiently distant from the lower part of Bath Hill not to appear domineering and yet still provides a good end point for the perspective up from the Pier Approach.
We welcome the creation of the new public realm and accessible space around the hotel and the pine tree lined pathway that continues the existing historic planting along Bath Road.
The flat block, we feel, has been given the right dimensions for the site – and certainly in this respect the general proportions of the townscape – especially around Bath Hill Court – will be considerably enhanced.
However the Society does think that a relatively minor aesthetic design change would greatly enhance the general appearance of this portion of the development and hope it can be considered. We are of the opinion that irrespective of the appropriate balance of horizontal to vertical architectural shapes to be observed in the general spatial relationship between the proposed hotel tower and apartment block; a more subtle balance of horizontal to vertical forms on a smaller scale could also be achieved by vertical decorative/architectural forms to be placed on the white, horizontal sweep of the balconies between the main, white, vertical divisions that divide every apartment on all the upper floors. Moreover we are pleased to point out that several facades of new developments such as the new Hilton Hotel and the new flats built on the site if the Bournemouth International Hotel in Priory Road have been improved in this fashion by consultation with members of the Bournemouth Civic Society. We are therefore certain that such relatively modest design alterations would enhance this very well meant project.
In conclusion therefore, the Society whilst welcoming and supporting the overall design concept, has concluded that since this application has not yet fully complied with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion. (4.19, i, ii, and iii)
54 Elgin Road Ref. No. 7-2016-3871-G
This is an application for the construction of a small detached family house built in debased, suburban, interwar, Arts and Crafts style. It would be build in the spacious grounds of a large inter war residence with grounds that stretch from Elgin Road to Glenferness Avenue.
The main facade which would face Glenferness Avenue, would have a selection of single, double and quadruple windows and a conventional pitched roof. The most unique feature of the new building would be the very large sloping roof to the rear which would descend directly to the ground floor; there would be French windows on one of the side elevations.
The Society observe that the most unique aspect of this proposal is not the conventional interwar design but the presumption that such a small house that would be more at home in a less pretentious residential neighbourhood, might be constructed in one of the most prestigious suburbs of the town.
We note in the 20 letters of objection to this scheme that have been received by local residents that fears have been expressed that such “fill in” housing speculations could in time seriously damage the distinctive spacious character of Talbot Woods where the majority of sites are occupied by large houses surrounded by large – sometimes semi-wild gardens. There was particular apprehension that such speculative properties would encroach well beyond the deeply set back building line with the subsequent loss of enclosing landscape cover. Other letters expressed the view that such a development opposed the environmental policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, not to mention the safeguards put in place by the Talbot Woods Conservation Area.
The Society has therefore concluded that since this application does not fulfil the conditions of the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be refused. (4.19, i, ii, and iii )
47-49 Withermoor Road Ref. No. 7-2016-15202-G
This is an application to build 6 dwelling houses – in a block of four and in a block of two as an infill development on garden/back land via an entrance to the grounds of an existing house in Withermoor Road.
The main facades of each house would consist of high vertical French windows of the ground floor and pronounced horizontal windows in the Interwar Moderne style on the first floor.
The Society considers that the general proportions of the facade designs to be poor. The excessive height of the two floors in relation to the inadequate size of the pitched roof is very noticeable. In addition, the windows of the first floor are very poorly integrated into the overall design.
Finally and most important, we consider that the number of terraced houses proposed – six – is far too large for this infill site. We feel four might be adequate but none would be better to prevent the general spread of over development in already fully developed urban areas
The Society is of the opinion that since this application does not fully comply with the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion. (4.19, i, ii, and iii)
1 Burnaby Road Ref. No. 7-2016-11289-I
This is an application to construct a four storey block of 14 flats in classical International Moderne style on the site of an older building originally built for private residential use and then until recently as an hotel. If built the main facade would take the form of a symmetrical composition with rectangular windows – with divisions – an indented penthouse and a flat roof. But while the rear facade would be blank, one side elevation would offer an oeil de beauf window the other would be of a somewhat asymmetrical design.
For the Society, the main point at issue is whether or Bournemouth Council wish to continue building modern blocks of flats along Studland Road, or to preserve the remaining stretches of late nineteenth century townscape there as part of the urban heritage of the town. We appreciate that both forms of development are possible but perhaps a specific characterisation policy on this conundrum is now appropriate.
Under the circumstances, since we feel that the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan have not been fully accepted by this planning application, we suggest that it be deferred for further consultation. (4.19, i, ii, and iii)
17 West Hill Road Ref. No. 7-2016-1706-R
This is an application to build a four/five storey block of 27 flats for both residential and holiday use on the site of an old hotel – the Chequers.
Although this site is just outside the designated West Cliff and Poole Hill Conservation Area, the nearness of the site to virtually complete nineteenth century residential/holiday neighbourhoods, has influenced the developer to submit a project designed in historicist style.
The principal facade has three main projections ending in a belvedere tower, a conical tower and a gable. Apart from these elements, the main facade consists partly of symmetrically positioned windows and partly of asymmetrical architectural elements including traditional balconies and rectangular windows. Above everything is an elaborate pitched roof.
The Society feels that although the general style is generally appropriate for the neighbourhood, the somewhat over elaborate Victorian design could be improved by the better integration of particular architectural elements. In particular we think that the rather excessively induced visual irregularities in respect to balconies and their position could be tidied up. The general mass in relation to the built footprint could also, perhaps, be reduced.
We have therefore concluded that because this application does not completely follow the townscape policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, it should be deferred for further discussion. (4.19, i, ii, and iii)
2 West Hill Road Ref. No. 7-2016-557-Q
This is an application to demolish an early twentieth century house and erect a cottage style property in Arts and Crafts style to contain 8 flats. The site is within the Poole Hill and West Cliff Conservation Area. We think that in contrast to the unsatisfactory part vernacular-part modern design synthesis of the previous proposal, the new proposal is more appropriate to the predominantly late nineteenth century urban character of West Hill Road.
The proposed building would have a traditional pitched roof (with dormers) and a large projecting bay window and gable . We are also certain that the general decorative design of the facades will produce a very suitable addition to the historic architectural landscape of West Hill Road.
Consequently the Society fully recommends this project and since it properly fulfils the conservation policies of the Bournemouth Local Plan, we suggest it be allowed. (4.4, i, ii, and iii )