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Work due to start on £4million revamp of The Parade in April
Ambitions to radically revamp the top end of Watford town centre took a definitive step forward as politicians appointed a contractor to undertake the project.
Work on the £4.3million scheme, which will see The Parade transformed, is expected to start in early April following tonight's decision.
The project will see a bridge built over the pond, the area down to Clarendon Road repaved, new street furniture installed, new trees and new lighting added to the area.
The Parade will also be made more spacious to accommodate live events.
At a Watford Borough Council meeting tonight the ruling Liberal Democrat cabinet voted to hand the project over to Barton Contracting.
Elected Mayor Dorothy Thornhill conceded that parts of the scheme may prove controversial with residents, but said the top of town's current shabby state would only get worse if nothing was done.
She said: "There will always be a vocal minority who have a view on things, but you have to be convinced you are doing the right thing.
"In this instance I am convinced if we left it, the top of town would decline and decay and it would just become a seedy place that comes to life at night.
"We are giving it the best shot. I hope that it will bring different businesses into the town and help towards economic regeneration.
"There will be things that people will love and things people will hate. That is the nature of townscape and design."
During the meeting other members of the cabinet expressed their support for the proposals.
Deputy Mayor, Derek Scudder, said he had been looking at pictures of the pond throughout the history of Watford and thought its current state was the worst.
He said: "I think its current incarnation is the worst ever. It is very brutal and stark looking."
The work on The Parade is expected to take around a year to complete.
Mayor Thornhill said businesses in the town were supportive of the plan and that it would encourage the private sector to invest in that area of Watford.
She added: "As it is now it is not an attractive place to be and to do business and it is deteriorating. We have got used to it as we see it every day. But when you invite people to the town you get to see it with fresh eyes."