Plans reveal more about possible Watford FC move to Bushey

A 33,000-seater carbon zero football stadium could be built on a golf course within the next five years, according to a planning document.

Detailed first stage proposals to transform Bushey Hall Golf Club have emerged, most notably providing a new home for Watford Football Club.

Earlier this week, it was revealed the private owners of Bushey Hall had put forward their site for redevelopment as part of Hertsmere Borough Council’s local plan.

The plans over two phases for a new football stadium, arena, hotel, cinema and more were released in a council meeting – but now a new planning document has revealed much, much more about what could happen.

It talks about the creation of the UK’s first zero carbon “state of the art” football stadium, for Watford FC, with a capacity of 33,000, situated within a fan park.

The proposals claim Bushey Hall would provide a new home for Watford, with the relocation of the club shop, head office, and Watford FC Community Trust offices.

A proposed masterplan has even been produced pinpointing whereabouts on the Bushey Hall site new facilities would go.

The stadium would be joined by a 6,000 seater indoor arena, a 200-bed hotel, offices, conference facilities for up to 1,000 people, a cinema, restaurants, the creation of a country park, and recreational facilities like football pitches and a Go Ape course.

Construction costs are estimated to be £250 to £300 million, according to the plans.

This shows a key to the potential redevelopment of Bushey Hall Golf Club

This shows a key to the potential redevelopment of Bushey Hall Golf Club

And that’s just the second phase outlined for Bushey Hall, which closed in 2019, with an 80 to 100 bed care home, nine-hole golf course, new clubhouse, and pitches mooted for phase one.

The plans, which claim to provide Watford with a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to relocate from Vicarage Road, even talk about the creation of new roads into the site, off Stephenson Way and Duncan Way.

It says phase one could be developed over the next two years, and phase two over the next three to five years.

These new details come around nine months after stadium designs, thought to be for Bushey Hall, were leaked online. A club source later said to the Observer that it undertaken pre-application advice with Hertsmere Borough Council about the Bushey Hall site.

This stadium design drawn up by an architects firm was leaked online last summer

This stadium design drawn up by an architects firm was leaked online last summer

This latest planning document has been published by the agents on behalf of golf club owners Veladail Leisure Ltd, and not by the football club – but it claims Watford supports redevelopment of Bushey Hall.

An extract from the document states: “Watford Football Club endorse the promotion of the BHCG (Bushey Hall Golf Club) site for a new stadium as part of Hertsmere’s new Local Plan, for proposals that would provide them with the opportunity to develop a new stadium and community hub in a location within the catchment of the club’s existing supporter base.

“The club has identified the BHGC site as one that is in a sustainable location maintaining good connections with Watford town centre and public transport modes.”

This map shows the locations of Bushey Hall Golf Club and Watfords current home, Vicarage Road. Credit: Google Maps

This map shows the locations of Bushey Hall Golf Club and Watford’s current home, Vicarage Road. Credit: Google Maps

It adds: “The owners of BHGC, Veladail Leisure Ltd and Watford Football Club request that the site is removed from the Green Belt and allocated as a strategic employment site in the Local Plan comprising commercial, sport and recreation, leisure and cultural, retail and community uses.”

Watford football club has declined to comment on the planning documents released into the public domain this week.

Vicarage Road stadium. Credit: Action Images

Vicarage Road stadium. Credit: Action Images

Speaking at a fans forum in October, chairman Scott Duxbury responded to questions about a possible move for the Hornets from its current 22,000 seater stadium in Vicarage Road.

He said back then: “I’ve always been happy with Vicarage Road, I think it’s a great stadium and we’ll continue to develop it.

“If commercially it made sense to move stadium, and it’s not just an ego move, because the infrastructure was better, access for supporters was better, we would explore it.

He added: “We’re also having discussions with the council about how we can extend and develop Vicarage Road, so we will have both discussions and we’ll do what’s best for the football club.

“It’s not that I’m passionately insistent on leaving but if it makes sense, and everything works then of course it’s something we would consider.”

Vicarage Road. Credit: Action Images

Vicarage Road. Credit: Action Images

The Bushey Hall site has been put forward by Veladail Leisure after Hertsmere Borough Council put out a call earlier this year for potential new employment sites which could be included in the council’s local plan.

The council is expected to publish its draft local plan, which will list a host of sites it believes is suitable for redevelopment of homes and employment space, later this spring.

Regardless of whether Bushey Hall is selected in the local plan, there’s no  guarantee Watford will choose to take this option at Bushey Hall forward, but if the club does decide to, a full planning application would still need to be submitted and considered by the council.

But any progression of a scheme at Bushey Hall is likely to face huge opposition, with numerous councillors in Bushey already coming out against the plans, while more than 5,000 have signed a petition to stop Watford moving to Bushey.

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