planningapplicationsPlanning Application 16/03865/F

Change of use and conversion and extension of existing first floor (Use Class B1) and addition of two storeys within roof and roof extension, to provide nine apartments.

248 Gloucester Road is an attractive Edwardian brick and stone former bank building at the bottom corner of Longmead Avenue. Whilst not actually listed, no. 248 is a Character Building which makes a positive contribution to the overall character and sense of place of the Gloucester Road and the area of Bishopston. One particularly elegant feature of the building is its sweeping slate roof set behind a fine timber eaves cornice. The main block on the corner is complemented by a smaller side extension which creates an attractive grouping and provides a suitable transition in scale to the residential properties in Longmead Avenue.
The proposal we have here is to take off the roof of both blocks and replace them with a two storey high steep mansard roof with dormer windows across the whole of the building, thus absorbing the attractive side extension into one lumpen 4 storey block. The proposed roof is out of scale and (particularly being a steep mansard) overbearing. The Design and Access Statement quotes the recent prison building alongside as an appropriate precedent for the roof dormers. We would not accept this, not least as the prison building itself is of poor design and has no affinity with the character of the area.
The further consequence of this proposal, to consolidate the whole building as one, is to create 4 storey rear elevations in unrelieved render with banal fenestration which is not an acceptable solution. The courtyard elevation in particular will present an ugly and bulky termination to Longmead Avenue. The top level of the building (above the dormer windows) is lit only by small velux rooflights - one to a double bedroom and two to a living/dining/kitchen. It is obvious that this will prove inadequate to provide sufficient daylight and outlook and that at the Building Regulations stage of the project these rooflights will be both enlarged and increased in number.
The Bishopston Society considers that this proposal represents substantial overdevelopment and the despoiling of an attractive Character Building. There is an alternative approach whereby the main block could be left untouched (apart from converting the first floor to residential) and a new building could be designed for the courtyard which would achieve more accommodation than the current proposal whilst at the same time fitting into the scale and rhythm of the residential properties in Longmead Avenue. Our view is that this proposal demonstrates exactly how NOT to convert a period property to alternative use. Existing buildings of quality and character are the meat and drink to charming neighbourhoods like Bishopston and should not be taken for granted and exploited merely for their floorspace.
 We strongly recommend refusal in this case.