BCP Council (Bournemouth): Matt Annen is delighted to have secured both Planning and Listed Building Consent for a major redevelopment in central Bournemouth. The scheme saw alterations and conversion/change of use of the existing buildings to form a mixed-use scheme consisting of ten commercial units of various sizes and 129 self-contained student accommodation units above with associated amenity spaces, cycle storage and parking and bin storage. The scheme was designed by Shore Architecture for mutual clients Carve Developments.

The scheme proposed to connect the House of Fraser buildings, Gervis Hall, and The Arcade are of which all Grade II Listed Buildings as well as Belfast House and the whole site fell within the Old Christchurch Road Conservation Area.

A pre-application was submitted in early 2023 and was generally viewed favourably, as it was considered unlikely that the upper floors would be re-let for commercial use, and recommended several pieces of advice, which the design team took on board and implemented within the full submission which was registered in June 2023.

There were no proposed changes to the scale and massing of the buildings. As such, the buildings would remain largely unchanged as viewed from both street scenes. The most significant changes related to the fenestration and internal layout re-organisation to form the individual student units as well as the replacement or windows which were beyond repair. During the progress of the application there was a consultation response received from Historic England where they requested that the rear of the former House of Fraser building could be opened up to reinstate an earlier cast iron veranda. The plans were amended re-introducing covered balconies to the rear units and this was considered to be a positive enhancement to the street by the LPA’s conservation officer thereby ensuring the integrity of the listed building and its setting, as well as retaining the character and appearance of the building and the conservation area. The applicants were happy to accept this change as with balcony views over Bournemouth Gardens and towards Bournemouth Pier with far reaching sea views beyond, these will arguably be some of the nicest student units in Bournemouth!

In arriving at his favourable conclusion the appointed planning officer considered that whilst there would be a significant loss of retail floorspace, the proposal retained a commercial presence at Basement, Lower and Upper Ground Floors, thereby reinstating active frontages along Old Christchurch Road, Gervis Place and The Arcade, all of which will positively contribute to the character and appearance of the town centre and conservation area. Whilst the conservation officer did note that there will be some harm relating to the internal alterations arising from the change of use; she was happy to see that both staircases were proposed to be retained and would still be able to be appreciated by the public and ultimately concluded that the adverse impact from the interventions with the original building is on balance outweighed by the benefits.

All of the approved student units are self-contained, with kitchenette and ensuite, except for 2 units which have a shared kitchen. All units benefit from a single or double bed, wardrobe, desk-study area and access to a window, allowing natural light, as well as outlook. Whilst some of the rooms are compact, it should be noted that there is an acceptable amount of internal and external communal space in the form of the communal kitchen, dining and lounge spaces. As well, some of the units have private balconies and all have access to a communal rooftop terrace as well as games rooms, study and reading rooms, a gym, music and media rooms and a laundry providing a high quality amenity provision for the students.

Pure Town Planning are very proud to have secured the necessary consents within 6 months to regenerate these buildings back to their former glory! If you are looking at a potentially complex Listed Building / Conservation proposal and need a firm of planning consultants with a proven track record of steering major town centre projects through the planning process then contact Matt, Dan, Chris or Neil in confidence on 01202 585524 or email us at info@puretownplanning.co.uk to see how we can help you too!