Residents and businesses in Watford have just over a month left to make comments on plans that will help shape future development of the town.
Public consultation of Watford Borough Council’s draft local plan for 2021-2036 is in full swing, with dozens of sites the council deems appropriate for redevelopment listed within the plan.
Among the sites earmarked for residential or commercial development are stations, garages, car parks, and community centres, along with retail parks and supermarkets.
A total of seven supermarket and retail park sites across Watford have been listed in the final draft local plan, which the council believes could be capable of squeezing nearly 4,000 homes on, going some way to meeting a government target of nearly 15,000 new homes by 2036.
It’s important to stress that just because sites appear in the local plan, it does not guarantee planning permission will be granted, although if a scheme is considered appropriate, it would be hard for the council to find a reason to turn it down.
Nor does it necessarily mean that supermarkets and retail shops will be demolished to make way for new homes; however what we do know is the council believes surrounding land, such as unused areas of car park for example, may be better used as places for new homes.
The first supermarket site listed within the draft local plan, and the largest of all 61 sites in terms of the number of potential homes (except Riverwell), is Tesco Extra, off Waterfields Way.
The council has suggested it could fit 1,338 housing units on land at Tesco, along with a new primary school, and other commercial development.
Any development here would be subject to a flood risk assessment as the site is within two flood zones.
Any development should avoid “significantly adverse impacts” on nearby locally and nationally listed buildings, including the locally listed coal duty marker monument on site.
If the monument cannot be retained, the council says the design of the redevelopment scheme should be of “extremely high quality” to justify the loss of the monument.
There would be a revised junction layout, crossing improvements and provision of a cycle path along Lower High Street, and enhanced connectivity to the River Colne.
The second of three supermarket sites listed within the plan is Asda by the Dome roundabout.
The giant store, which has been partially converted into a Covid vaccination centre, has quite a sprawling car park which the council believes could be redeveloped in some way for housing. The council proposes 422 homes for the site which could also include some retail development.
The council is conscious any impact development may have on nearby locally listed buildings such as North Watford Library and the former Odhams Press Hall.
One of two Sainsbury’s sites in Watford are listed in the plan – the smaller one in the town centre.
The council has made no secret that it wants to spruce up the area off The Parade, including Albert Street South and Gaumont Approach.
A mixed-use development of residential and commercial use is proposed for the Sainsbury’s site, including 220 homes.
Waterfields Shopping Park
Next door to Tesco Extra, Waterfields Shopping Park has been mentioned within the plan as a site that could accommodate 414 homes.
The council considers the retail park to be a site considered suitable for residential development.
Colne Valley Retail Park
This is the retail park accessed via a roundabout in Waterfields Way near Tesco, currently home to stores like Carpetright, Harvey’s Furniture, Oak Furniture Land, and DFS.
The council envisages 466 homes could be built on the site of the retail park.
Like with Tesco, the site would be subject to a flood risk assessment as it sits within two flood zones.
Colne Bridge Retail Park
This site is in Lower High Street and currently comprises the Mercedes car garage.
The council believes 141 homes could be built at Colne Bridge and mentions the possibility of re-provision of retail use on the ground floor.
Like with Tesco and Colne Valley, the site would be subject to a flood risk assessment as it sits within two flood zones.
Both Colne Bridge and Colne Valley would be designed in mind to enhance connectivity with the River Colne, including at Colne Bridge with the provision of a potential pedestrian and cycle crossing over the River Colne in the future, as set out in the south west Hertfordshire transport and infrastructure plan.
Any development at Colne Bridge would need take account of the Pinner Road Air Quality Management Area.
The Range, St Albans Road
This site already has planning permission for 1,214 homes, including a 28-storey tower, but can be included within this new local plan, helping to meet the council’s housing targets.
The Range and TK Maxx site will be redeveloped after permission was secured by developer Berkeley Homes in December 2019.
Alongside more than 1,000 homes, there is provision for a new primary school along with a financial contribution to boost GP provision in the area.
The sites listed above are only seven of 61 which appear in the council’s draft local plan. The full list can be found below.
Visit www.watfordlocalplan.co.uk to have your say. The public consultation ends on March 18.