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Council throws out HKR's contentious West Quay project

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Poole Council’s planning committee has refused planning permission for HKR Architects’ £100 million West Quay scheme, going against the recommendations of its own planning officers

The decision is effectively a victory for both local campaigners and Classicist architect Robert Adam who had offered an ‘alternative vision’ to HKR’s ‘run-of-the mill’ proposals for a £85 million mixed-use, waterfront development last month (‘Planning terrorism’: Robert Adam reveals rival to HKR’s Poole plans).

Adam, who was brought up in Poole, spoke out about the scheme at the committee meeting yesterday (2 November) showing off his alternative plans which he claimed were more in keeping with the historic quayside.

Speaking to the AJ, Adam said: ‘The [HKR scheme] was a pretty straight forward piece of unassuming Modernism which could have been drawn up by any one of a 1,000 different firms.

‘Though the officers put forward a strong case for its approval, the people didn’t like it. This should act as a warning about the power of Localism.’

He added: ‘This decision shows the gulf between something which is arranged between professionals [planning officers, designers and CABE] and the democratic process.

ADAM Urbanism's rival plans for Poole Harbour

ADAM Urbanism’s rival plans for Poole Harbour

HKR was unavailable for comment.

Previous story (AJ 07.10.11)

HKR Architects redesigns West Quay project

HKR Architects has revealed new images of its reworked proposal for West Quay in Poole, Dorset

The practice redrafted its original plans for an £85 million mixed-use development featuring six buildings, including a landmark 12-storey mini-tower. Backed by Neptune Consultants, the development will provide around 370 apartments in the harbour area of the town.

The ‘significant amendments’ were made in response to comments received from CABE and ‘key consultees’ (read the revised planning statement here).

As result the size of the windows in the main tower has been increased, with additional windows added to the top element and the roof terrace broken down into a louvred enclosure.

Revised scheme: HKR's West Quay scheme in Poole harbour (Summer 2011)

Revised scheme: HKR’s West Quay scheme in Poole harbour (Summer 2011)

CABE’s design review comment,

Planning reference - 10/00995/F

The redevelopment of this site will set an important precedent in Poole, not just in raising the standard of design but also in demonstrating how the Old Town and High Street can combine with the West Quay Road area. We commend the intelligent design approach to this project which includes a careful analysis of the site and its specific characteristics. We also welcome the realistic approach that has been taken to distribute the uses across the site to suit the property market at present. We recognise the efforts to create a notable development within Poole and we fully support the commitment shown by the design team and local authority. We welcome the revised approach to the West Quay Point building, although the local authority should assure itself that the revised plan form delivers a building that responds sufficiently well to aspect and orientation. We also acknowledge the reason for the introduction of offices to the Twin Sails block but we are not fully convinced of the need to create a landmark building in this location.

Scale of development

We think the scale of development responds well to its surroundings, in particular the lower buildings that face the waterfront are human in scale and by virtue of the architecture and suggested materials, have a charm that relates well to the character of the waterfront and the scale of the buildings further east, along Old Quay. We think the idea to use a consistent material above ‘shoulder height’ so that the upper levels appear less dominant is a logical approach, however, we remain unconvinced that a bronze metal panel is the best material for this. This material could be reflective which could draw attention to the upper floors and therefore create buildings that are ‘top heavy.’ In addition, we are not convinced that a bronze metal panel will make a smooth transition in materials from the brick at the lower levels. In light of our concern, therefore, we recommend that the treatment of the upper levels of the development is reconsidered. 

We support the revised approach to West Quay Point (block F). The tower’s revised form and massing, arranged as a series of major and minor elements to respond in height to their particular aspect is acknowledged. In particular, the decision to place the tallest element on the most prominent corner on West Quay facing the Old Harbour Bridge is well judged. The pin-wheel plan, that clusters two 2-bed units and two duplexes around a central core, lends the building slender proportions and pleasing dimensions. However, as illustrated in the views studies of the tower from Old Harbour Bridge and Old Quay, we think that this plan arrangement limits the extent to which its principal elevations address aspect and orientation. Therefore, we think the pin-wheel configuration could be relaxed to allow the elevations to respond more effectively. Notwithstanding, we welcome the expression of the duplex units and the use of a metallic finish across the building. However, the local authority should assure itself that the chosen cladding system can withstand the corrosive saline environment. The decision to locate the residential entrance to West Quay Point onto the square is well judged. While the stone slabs work well to ground the tower, the building could benefit from greater transparency at ground level to more fully reveal the activity of the café uses proposed.

We acknowledge that the office use now proposed for Twin Sails House aligns more closely with local planning policy. We also understand the decision to maintain a physical link between the office building and the residential building, allowing for a ground level pedestrian route between them. The form and proportions of the office building appear well considered. We support the principle of establishing a distinct architectural language for the office and residential elements. The local authority should assure itself that the ratio of solid to void across the office’s panelled façades will help distinguish it from a residential building.

We remain to be convinced of the need for a ten storey marker building to the north of the site when the Twin Sails Bridge will be a memorable and visible structure in itself. Notwithstanding, we think revised form, massing and expression of this residential building is more successful than the previously submitted iteration.

Quality of residential accommodation

We commend the client and the design team for paying careful attention to the configuration of the flats.  We welcome the provision of a communal roof terrace on West Quay Point. The local planning authority should satisfy itself that residents across the site will have access to a sufficient amount of private amenity space to fulfil their needs. It should also be convinced that the courtyard spaces to blocks B and E will provide a pleasant microclimate and will not be substantially overlooked.


We welcome the attention that has been given to the sustainability of the scheme and in particular the intention to introduce two centralised Combined Heat and Power plants and solar hot water panels on the roof, which will help the scheme achieve Code for Sustainable Homes level 4.The local planning authority needs to be confident that the commitment to sustainability is in line with the council’s sustainability targets.

Previous story (AJ 10.08.10)

AJ Exclusive: HKR Architects’ West Quay project

[FIRST LOOK] HKR Architects has revealed images of the next phase of the regeneration of Poole, Dorset

The £85 million mixed-use development comprises six buildings, including a landmark 12-storey mini-tower,  and will provide 440 apartments in the harbour area of the town.

A planning decision on the project, which features a new flood defence cell and sea wall, is due in early September and the government’s design watchdog CABE is due to give feedback.


Project data

Architects: HKR Architects
Location: The West Quay, Poole, Dorset
Type Of Project: Urban Mixed Use
Client: Neptune Consultants Ltd
Design Team:
Landscape Arch:
Terence O’Rourke
Project Manager: GVA Second London Wall
M&E consultant: Halcrow Yolles
Quantity surveyor: Davis Langdon
Planning supervisor: Terence O’Rourke
Structural Engineers: O’Connor Sutton Cronin
Funding: Privately funded
Tender date: n/a
Start on site date: Expected 2011
Contract duration: c3 years
Gross internal floor area: 60,000sq.m
Form of contract and/or procurement: n/a
Total cost:  £85-100 million       
Lighting consultant:
Main contractor: n/a
Selected subcontractors and suppliers: n/a
Annual co2 emissions: n/a

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