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Proposed Redevelopment of the former Belmont Hospital site
Proposed Redevelopment of the former Belmont Hospital site, Tiverton General Comments about the proposal The Society has commented on proposals for the redevelopment of the Grade II listed former Belmont Hospital / Tiverton Workhouse site following the first consultation on 15.4.08. In this comment we stated that ‘The design of all the terraces, apartment blocks and detached houses on the site should respect and cohere with the design of the central feature of the site, the Grade II listed former Belmont Hospital’. In our view, following the second consultation, there remain significant adjustments required of the current proposal before this is achieved. The guidance on the historic environment given to local authorities, amenity bodies and others is found in PPG 15 which states that special regard must be given to the desirability of preserving the setting of listed buildings. The design principle stemming from this is to be found in Paragraph 2.14 of PPG15. 2.14 The design of new buildings intended to stand alongside historic buildings needs very careful consideration. In general it is better that old buildings are not set apart, but are woven into the fabric of the living and working community. This can be done, provided that the new buildings are carefully designed to respect their setting, follow fundamental architectural principles of scale, height, massing and alignment, and use appropriate materials. This does not mean that new buildings have to copy their older neighbours in detail: some of the most interesting streets in our towns and villages include a variety of building styles, materials, and forms of construction, of many different periods, but together forming a harmonious group In order that a ‘harmonious group’ design is achieved and which respects the setting of the listed building, the Society asserts that the principle of subservience be applied to unattached and attached new-build to the listed building and its outbuildings. The Society is of the view that the current proposals, all of which lie within both the setting and the curtilage of a Grade II listed building, do not respect the setting of Belmont Hospital or provide harmony but dominate the setting of the listed building and detract from it, as opposed to being subservient to and preserving or enhancing the setting of the listed building. The designs appear restless and lack the unity necessary for harmony. In comments following the last consultation, the Society stated that it was of the view that ‘the height of the apartment block on the corner of Belmont Road and Hillcrest which is contiguous with the outbuildings adjacent to Belmont Road, should respect the height, roofline, roof pitch, building materials and window designs of the outbuildings....The Society would like to see terrace houses at this point on the site and would prefer the outbuildings [to the listed building] to be converted to terrace dwellings (rather than apartments) to which the existing layout and height of the outbuildings lend themselves.’ At this stage, there was no proposal to build in front of the outbuildings facing Belmont Road. Following the second consultation, the Society feels that the visual quality of the present proposal neither preservess nor enhances the quality of the listed building which is its central feature. In particular, the new-build apartment blocks on the corner of Belmont Road and Hillcrest, and on Hillcrest, dominate in terms of height, obscuring the listed building from view on the approach travelling west along Belmont Road. The design features of these blocks, together with the new-build apartments attached to the outbuildings of the listed building facing Belmont Road, present harshly to the passing pedestrian walking along Belmont Road as a series of ‘boxes’, having visually unattractive flat roofs and a restless mix of white render and timber cladding to the elevations. These design features are uncharacteristic of, and not in keeping with, the principle design features of the listed building and its outbuildings. The latter are characterised by shallow-pitched roofs, with local dark red stone elevation. Nor are the features of the new-build characteristic of the surrounding terraced and semi-detached houses providing the current setting for the listed building. These have steeply pitched roofs and brick elevations, and also good-sized back gardens. Comments on the detailed design of the scheme A. New-build Apartments adjacent to Belmont Road and Hillcrest Representatives of the Society have discussed the design of the apartment blocks with the architect during the consultation and would like to see the following revisions to the proposals: 1. As first preference, no apartment block to be built on the corner of Belmont Road and Hillcrest, or along Hillcrest. The elevation of the two-storey outbuildings to be extended sensitively towards Belmont Road, given their setting within the curtilage of a listed building, so that the apartments created in these extended outbuildings look out towards Belmont Road across short gardens belonging to ground floor apartments. New-build extension to the outbuildings of the Grade II listed Belmont Hospital, facing Belmont Road, to provide apartments in the outbuildings The outbuildings were originally at the back of the Workhouse, and as such, they are oriented into the site towards the Listed Workhouse building, rather than outward to the current main thoroughfare of Belmont Road. They are enclosed by a high wall which is to be retained. • The Society would like to see the roof of the new-build section of these apartments redesigned as a shallow pitched roof as close as possible to the angle of the roof of the two- storey outbuildings so that the view of this elevation from Belmont Road encourages the eye to sweep gently upward over the roof of the new-build fronting Belmont Road to the listed building behind. The colour and material look of the roof tiling to be as close as possible to that of the roofing on the outbuildings and listed building. • The Society are unhappy with the lack of cohesion provided by the mix of render and timber on the elevation of the apartment blocks, and suggest that a suitably selected dark red render blending with the colour of the stone on the listed building is used and this colour retained under the terms of sale. This would provide coherence to the site as a whole. It would also reduce the long-term maintenance costs for the exterior of the building by comparison with timber cladding, which even with modern technology, would show deterioration in colour and quality in a relatively short space of time. • The Society welcome the central vertical glass elevation design to the apartments facing Belmont Road as a feature entrance to these apartments which turns the focus of the building outwards to Belmont Road. • Window designs should respect the fenestration design character of the listed building and its outbuilding. Area of the apartment blocks on the corner of Belmont Road and Hillcrest and in Hillcrest • The Society would like to see the area of the corner apartment block and apartment block in Hillcrest as public open space, of which this proposal has far too little. The current, and in the Society’s opinion, unnecessarily high density of the proposal renders it vulnerable to becoming a slum in the future. • At an earlier stage in the consultation, there was a proposal for a children’s play area. This would be an appropriate use of the site of the apartment block facing Hillcrest which is a quiet cul-de-sac containing semi-detached family homes. • The corner site would provide a sheltered communal garden area for residents of upper floor apartments, enclosed as it is by the high wall adjacent to Belmont Road. Other • The proposals did not appear to provide an area or building servicing the refuse and recycling needs of the apartments in the outbuildings. The size of the apartments would suggest that residents will have very little room within the apartments to address the need to separate refuse and sort the varying types of articles for recycling. • The high density and lack of open amenity space will also deprive many residents of basic need options such as outdoor drying of laundry washing. • Car parking proposals should conform to or be slightly above the minimum requirement of 1½ to 2 cars per apartment as on street parking in Tiverton is limited by the narrow streets. Failure to provide such spaces will transfer the parked car problem to areas outside the development site which will add to the lowering of environmental standards in this part of Tiverton. 2. As second preference, a lowered, pitched roofline to the apartment blocks on the corner of Belmont Road and on Hillcrest, together with comments as in 1. on design relating to roof pitch, elevation design and fenestration. • It would be desirable to reduce the height of these two apartment blocks from three to two storey with a shallow pitched roof to avoid detracting from the listed building. The Society has discussed the possibility of three-storey with the windows of the top floor as dormer windows in a shallow pitched roof. • The Society welcome the use of the stone boundary wall facing onto Belmont Road as a casing to the ground floor section of the wall of the new-build apartment on the corner of Belmont Road and Hillcrest, and the inclusion of fenestration in this wall, opening the building out onto Belmont Road. • The Society would prefer the elevation above the stone wall to be of dark red render, cohering with the colour of the stone of the listed building, and the outbuildings to which it is attached. • The Society welcome the curved corner design of the apartment on the corner of Belmont Road and Hillcrest, but are unhappy with the proposed white render finish. The Society suggests that a vertical full-length, curved window, balancing that of the glass feature entrance to the apartment block facing Belmont Road would be an attractive feature, and provide continuity to a subservient ‘wrap-around’ design approach to the new-build in the setting of the listed building. • The Society suggest that elevations of both apartment blocks should be dark red render with fenestration respecting that of the listed building. B. Attached new-build to Listed Belmont Hospital building The detailed design on this part of the proposal was not available at the second consultation as it has not yet been completed. This extension forms the south east wing of the listed building, to the front of the main entrance to the original Workhouse, which faced south towards the town (and not north towards Belmont Road). The extension provides a one-storey building balancing that of the south-west front wing of the Workhouse. Representatives of the Society, in conversation with the architect, strongly recommend that: • In conformity with the clear guidance in PPG 15, the extension should retain the roofscape, plan form and fenestration of the south-west wing of the Grade II Listed Building for the proposed south-east wing extension. • As the original stone material of the Workhouse is not available, the Society recommends exterior material for the elevation that is consistent with the dark red stone of the listed building. A suitable dark red render has been suggested as one possibility. • Roof materials and pitch should cohere in colour and materials with that of the south-west wing and the main roof of the listed building. • The Society welcome the proposal to turn the front, south-facing courtyard of the Workhouse into a sheltered communal garden for residents of the apartments created in the listed building, and are pleased that the proposal retains one storey wings with shallow pitched roofs on the south side, allowing the sun to penetrate the garden. • The same caveats with regard to refuse and recycling, and to car parking apply to apartments in the listed building as the outbuildings. C. New-build terraced property within the curtilage and to the south of the listed building • The Society welcome the decision to replace a proposed apartment block in this area with terraced housing. • Design features of the new-build terraced housing should respect and be subservient to the design features of the listed building. This area of new housing falls into two parts – that adjacent to the front wings of the listed building and that beyond the ‘neck’ formed by Ambulance Station and Melrose Unit. These parts are joined by terraced housing fronting the spine road. This allows for movement in design features from the dwellings facing the listed building to those beyond the ‘neck’. At present, the proposal shows a design of two-storey housing with steeply pitched roofs and a restless mix of white render and timber cladding, some with a vertical idiom built into the nix and some with a horizontal idiom. The current proposal is restless, and ill-suited to the existing building characteristics of the site. The Society make the following suggested revisions to the proposals: • The elevation of two-storey terraced housing facing the listed building should be simplified to use only dark red render that coheres with the stonework of the listed building and the dark red render of the south-east new-build front wing of the listed building, while introducing the characteristically steeper pitch of roofing of the proposal which is carried through terraces along the ‘neck’ to the area beyond. • If it is considered desirable from an ecological perspective to introduce a mix of timber cladding and render on the façade of the terraces, this design feature might be introduced in the terraces which face each other along the ‘neck’. A horizontal timber-cladding design idiom at this point, with dark red render on the lower storey and timber cladding on the upper storey, would cohere with the one-storey dark red render of the new-build south east wing of the listed building. • We understand the proposed vertical timber idiom on the two-storey terraced buildings is designed to emphasise the front entrance to each terraced property, and possibly might also relate to the gradient of the land on southern parts of the site. As this part of the site has less influence on the setting of the listed building, a movement in the timber-cladding design idiom from horizontal in the ‘neck’ to vertical beyond the ‘neck’ could provide a subtle differentiation and point of interest within the site while retaining subservience to the listed building. D. Public access, paths and cycle ways, parking The Society welcome the provision of public access for pedestrians at three points and cyclists at two points on the site on Belmont Road and Hillcrest, with pavement from each of these to the arched exit from the site along a footpath and cycleway to the town centre and local school.Car parking provision should be at least the minimum and preferably above the minimum requirements for terraced properties.
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