A bid to turn a "landmark" former north Watford pub into a "monolithic" flats development has been rejected by councillors.

Watford Borough Council’s development control committee voted down an application to demolish The Verulam Arms and build 18 flats saying the development was too tall and did not provide enough parking.

The vote went against the advice of planning officers who recommended that the committee approve the plans, by O’Connor Utilities Ltd.

The application proposed building 14 two-bed flats and four one-bed flats, of which six will be affordable on the site.

The scheme kept existing pub car park on the site to provide 13 spaces for the flats and said five of the new homes would be "car free".

At last night’s meeting, the committee heard from Ridge Street resident Tony Gordon who opposed the development as he said the lack of spaces would exacerbate the already crowded parking situation in the area.

However, David Mercer, the scheme’s architect, told the committee the current scheme had been reduced in size from previous plans after discussions with council planners.

He added: "This will provide much needed housing with both private and affordable unit."

During the ensuing debate on the scheme, Anne Joynes, a Labour councillor for Leggatts, said: "For me the Veralum Arms is a landmark. So it would be a shame to see it go, ugly or not."

Other councillors criticised the flats’ design. Tim Williams, a Lib Dem representative for Stanborough, said: "I am uninspired by it. It looks like a monolithic office block. It is in a prominent site in north Watford and I don’t think it has any character to it. I just think for Watford we can do better."

Watford Observer:

The proposed design for the flats.

His sentiments were echoed by Leggatts Lib Dem, Steve Johnson, said he also did not like the design nor size of the development and suggested the application be delayed so it could be improved.

He added: "Let’s try and get this right as it will be there for many, many years. So if there is a delay it could be very, very worth it."

However Keith Crout, a Lib Dem for Stanborough, argued that the development would provide much-needed flats in the area.

He said: "I drove down St Albans Road the other day, and I don’t go past there much as I live in central Watford. When I came across the Verulam Arms I thought ‘why has it not been used for anything’.

"There is a huge demand for one and two bed flats in Watford."

At the end of the discussion Lib Dem Nascot councillor, Mark Watkin, put forward a motion to delay the application for design amendments to be made, which was voted down by six votes to two.

Then Labour leader Nigel Bell then proposed a vote to refuse the application which was won by five votes to three.