Clarendon Road Victorian villa saved from becoming office and flats development

Watford Observer: 36 Clarendon Road 36 Clarendon Road

A Victorian villa in central Watford has been saved from being demolished and turned into “an oppressive and monolithic” office and flats development.

Watford Borough Council’s development control committee rejected advice from planners and threw out proposals to redevelop the former registry office at 36 Clarendon Road last night.

The decision came after residents and politicians in the area complained the new development would overshadow nearby homes and result in the loss of part of the town’s architectural heritage.

The applicants, Hertfordshire County Council, which owns the building and V Fund (Watford) Ltd, had wanted to turn the building into new offices with 36 flats.

The development would have provided seven studio flats, 14 one-bed and 15 two-bed. Plans showed the development would have 19 parking spaces for the office and 24 spaces for the flats.

The office element at the front would be five storeys high while the flats at the rear would reach as high as seven storeys.

Planning offices recommended the committee approve the plans adding that “the building itself is not of any significant merit due to its limited architectural and historic interest.”

At the meeting John Berrisford, from nearby Gartlet Road, addressed the committee and raised concerns that the large structure would overshadow homes in the road.

Commenting on the design, he said: “It creates an oppressive and monolithic building, totally alien to the area.”

Helen Lynch, a Liberal Democrat councillor for the area, also spoke in opposition to the plans saying the building, which had been built as a villa for the town’s MP in 1865, was an important part of Watford’s architectural heritage.

She added the building had also been earmarked as one of two potential sites for a new Church of England free school, planned for the area.

However councillors were told they should set aside the school issue as it was not a proper planning consideration.

Douglas Bond, speaking on behalf of the applicants, said the building would provide Clarendon Road with “high quality” office space, which accorded with the council’s plans for the area.

He said the applicants had also made a number of amendments to the scheme at the request of borough planners, such as making 35 per cent of the flats affordable.

During the ensuing debate a number of councillors on the development control panel expressed concern about the proposed loss the building.

Watford Observer:

Plans for new development.

Nigel Bell, a Labour councillor for Holywell, said: “From a Watford point of view this is a historic building and maybe there is something that can be done to save it and put it to some use?”

Only one councillor expressed support for the scheme, Mark Watkin, a Liberal Democrat for Nascot.

He said the design made a good transition between the office space at the front and flats at the rear, unlike similar developments in Beechen Grove.

Councillor Watkin added: “In my mind this will be a net gain to the community Watford”.

However, Councillor Iain Sharpe, a Liberal Democrat for Oxhey, put forward a motion to reject the application, criticising the bulk and design of the development.

He added: “I think we can do better. I would be tempted to turn this down on the grounds of bulk and scale and that the development will have detrimental effect on the conservation area.”

The committee voted overwhelmingly in favour of the motion with only Councillor Watkin voting against.

Comments (18)

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5:33pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Andrew1963 says...

Bulk and scale of the proposal? - can see the inspector pointing to the Edward Hyde building next door and rejecting that. Perhaps Herts county council should transfer the building to Watford Council - then no doubt it would be approved! Its a nice old house at the front, but an unspectacular addition at the back. Perhaps the council could find an alternative use for it, but i doubt it. My money is on demolition by the end of next financial year.
Bulk and scale of the proposal? - can see the inspector pointing to the Edward Hyde building next door and rejecting that. Perhaps Herts county council should transfer the building to Watford Council - then no doubt it would be approved! Its a nice old house at the front, but an unspectacular addition at the back. Perhaps the council could find an alternative use for it, but i doubt it. My money is on demolition by the end of next financial year. Andrew1963
  • Score: 8

5:57pm Fri 14 Mar 14

gusgreen says...

Turn down more flats in Watford! what's going on? I know there must be an election coming up. Try again in June it will pass then!
Turn down more flats in Watford! what's going on? I know there must be an election coming up. Try again in June it will pass then! gusgreen
  • Score: 9

6:41pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Cuetip says...

gusgreen wrote:
Turn down more flats in Watford! what's going on? I know there must be an election coming up. Try again in June it will pass then!
'..set aside the school issue as it was not a proper planning consideration. '

Councillor Watkin added: “In my mind this will be a net gain to the community Watford”. Would he put this laclk of joined up thinking in a leaflet?

It's no wonder that planning has been brought into disrepute and Nascot has seen an explsion in flats with no added services.
[quote][p][bold]gusgreen[/bold] wrote: Turn down more flats in Watford! what's going on? I know there must be an election coming up. Try again in June it will pass then![/p][/quote]'..set aside the school issue as it was not a proper planning consideration. ' Councillor Watkin added: “In my mind this will be a net gain to the community Watford”. Would he put this laclk of joined up thinking in a leaflet? It's no wonder that planning has been brought into disrepute and Nascot has seen an explsion in flats with no added services. Cuetip
  • Score: 2

6:52pm Fri 14 Mar 14

D_Penn says...

It's a very nice building and it would be a shame to lose it, but have a look on Google street maps and it is an anachronism. It is totally surrounded by modern buildings in every direction, littered with cars at the front and looks decidedly out of place. To be honest, It's a surprise it hasn't been turned into office space years ago.

On the planning application, the idea of putting 36 flats there and only 24 parking spaces shows yet again that there is no understanding that in the 21st century you need to cater for at least one car per dwelling (allowing for visitors). Apart from that we do not want even more people crammed into Watford, so I'm glad the proposal was be rejected - but it will come back and as others have said, it will go through at some point.

When it does, I would rather the whole premises was used for business.
It's a very nice building and it would be a shame to lose it, but have a look on Google street maps and it is an anachronism. It is totally surrounded by modern buildings in every direction, littered with cars at the front and looks decidedly out of place. To be honest, It's a surprise it hasn't been turned into office space years ago. On the planning application, the idea of putting 36 flats there and only 24 parking spaces shows yet again that there is no understanding that in the 21st century you need to cater for at least one car per dwelling (allowing for visitors). Apart from that we do not want even more people crammed into Watford, so I'm glad the proposal was be rejected - but it will come back and as others have said, it will go through at some point. When it does, I would rather the whole premises was used for business. D_Penn
  • Score: 1

8:23pm Fri 14 Mar 14

Nascot says...

It is a shame that planning requirements are not much stricter about provision of parking. A 5 story office block and 19 parking spaces would hardly be an attraction to potential lessees and only 24 for 36 rabbit hutch flats. Absolute madness.
It is a shame that planning requirements are not much stricter about provision of parking. A 5 story office block and 19 parking spaces would hardly be an attraction to potential lessees and only 24 for 36 rabbit hutch flats. Absolute madness. Nascot
  • Score: 3

1:32am Sat 15 Mar 14

John Dowdle says...

My late wife and I were married in the registry office in that building.
I imagine many other Watford residents must also have happy memories of it.
So why is the county council wanting to sell it off for demolition?
Yet again, insensitivity from the county council for a part of the county they care little about.
As for the building or the site being targeted for a religious school: this kind of nonsense has to stop. Watford currently enjoys a degree of social cohesion and inter-cultural relations which are arguably the envy of many other parts of the UK. The idea of creating cultural ghettoes or bunkers within Watford is just plain crazy.
Apart from the absolute probability that such a development will eventually confront us all with unplanned closures of schools and school places in the future, why would we want religious ideology to be given preferential treatment?
I would be saying the same if the proposal was for a Lib Dem only or a Labour Only or a Conservative only or a UKIP only or a BNP only school.
These are all ideologies; whether religious as against political.
The same could be said with regard to commercial ideologies.
Do any of us want to see Tesco only or Sainsbury only or Poundland only schools?
The idea of allowing just one type of ideology preferential treatment is crazy and ridiculous.
We need less - not more - ideological schooling for our children.
My late wife and I were married in the registry office in that building. I imagine many other Watford residents must also have happy memories of it. So why is the county council wanting to sell it off for demolition? Yet again, insensitivity from the county council for a part of the county they care little about. As for the building or the site being targeted for a religious school: this kind of nonsense has to stop. Watford currently enjoys a degree of social cohesion and inter-cultural relations which are arguably the envy of many other parts of the UK. The idea of creating cultural ghettoes or bunkers within Watford is just plain crazy. Apart from the absolute probability that such a development will eventually confront us all with unplanned closures of schools and school places in the future, why would we want religious ideology to be given preferential treatment? I would be saying the same if the proposal was for a Lib Dem only or a Labour Only or a Conservative only or a UKIP only or a BNP only school. These are all ideologies; whether religious as against political. The same could be said with regard to commercial ideologies. Do any of us want to see Tesco only or Sainsbury only or Poundland only schools? The idea of allowing just one type of ideology preferential treatment is crazy and ridiculous. We need less - not more - ideological schooling for our children. John Dowdle
  • Score: 6

7:57am Sat 15 Mar 14

Wacko Jacko says...

I'm glad the building has been saved, too much of Watford's heritage has been demolished in past years. What we now need is a sensitive scheme to come forward which integrates the Victorian villa as part of any redevelopment
I'm glad the building has been saved, too much of Watford's heritage has been demolished in past years. What we now need is a sensitive scheme to come forward which integrates the Victorian villa as part of any redevelopment Wacko Jacko
  • Score: 9

11:04am Sat 15 Mar 14

Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford says...

It would be a shame to lose it as it is a nice local landmark.
It would be a shame to lose it as it is a nice local landmark. Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford
  • Score: -2

11:42am Sat 15 Mar 14

D_Penn says...

I wish a benefactor would come foreward with the money to move the building, brick by brick, in its entirety to a new site where it could be really appreciated. It would look very nice nestled in a corner of say, Cassiobury Park where, perhaps, it could be used as a new housing for Watford Museum.

I would envisage many people leisurely strolling through the park wandering into what would be a beutiful museum building.

Hmmm, perhaps the selling of the Victoria Villa's site and the current Watford Museum site (both better placed for business use) could fund the relocation - indeed a developer might agree to do it for nothing in return for the two sites.

I know it's a 'back of envelope' calculation that I'm making up as I go along, but what do others think? I'd love to see the historic building saved and kept for future generations to enjoy, but I can't see it surviving where it is.
I wish a benefactor would come foreward with the money to move the building, brick by brick, in its entirety to a new site where it could be really appreciated. It would look very nice nestled in a corner of say, Cassiobury Park where, perhaps, it could be used as a new housing for Watford Museum. I would envisage many people leisurely strolling through the park wandering into what would be a beutiful museum building. Hmmm, perhaps the selling of the Victoria Villa's site and the current Watford Museum site (both better placed for business use) could fund the relocation - indeed a developer might agree to do it for nothing in return for the two sites. I know it's a 'back of envelope' calculation that I'm making up as I go along, but what do others think? I'd love to see the historic building saved and kept for future generations to enjoy, but I can't see it surviving where it is. D_Penn
  • Score: 0

12:04pm Sat 15 Mar 14

LocalBoy1 says...

You can't knock that down. I got married there! The wife has gone...):):)):) But I would like to see the building stay..
You can't knock that down. I got married there! The wife has gone...):):)):) But I would like to see the building stay.. LocalBoy1
  • Score: 9

1:14pm Sat 15 Mar 14

Retlas says...

@ John Dowdle

My wife and I were also married there in the early '70's.
It was an oasis then.
How many Watford residents have images in their wedding albums taken with the tree?
@ John Dowdle My wife and I were also married there in the early '70's. It was an oasis then. How many Watford residents have images in their wedding albums taken with the tree? Retlas
  • Score: 9

1:41pm Sat 15 Mar 14

Maclanx says...

D_Penn wrote:
It's a very nice building and it would be a shame to lose it, but have a look on Google street maps and it is an anachronism. It is totally surrounded by modern buildings in every direction, littered with cars at the front and looks decidedly out of place. To be honest, It's a surprise it hasn't been turned into office space years ago.

On the planning application, the idea of putting 36 flats there and only 24 parking spaces shows yet again that there is no understanding that in the 21st century you need to cater for at least one car per dwelling (allowing for visitors). Apart from that we do not want even more people crammed into Watford, so I'm glad the proposal was be rejected - but it will come back and as others have said, it will go through at some point.

When it does, I would rather the whole premises was used for business.
Disagree on your point about 21st century households having at least one car. It really depends on whereabouts you live. In central Watford there is a lot less reason to have any car at all than in, say, Abbots Langley.

If you have grown up in a family with car/s and in an area that relies on them then one might think it a right to have a car. But if you have entered the country or are young and want to avoid an extra cost then it is not a big deal.

Agree with the other points though!
[quote][p][bold]D_Penn[/bold] wrote: It's a very nice building and it would be a shame to lose it, but have a look on Google street maps and it is an anachronism. It is totally surrounded by modern buildings in every direction, littered with cars at the front and looks decidedly out of place. To be honest, It's a surprise it hasn't been turned into office space years ago. On the planning application, the idea of putting 36 flats there and only 24 parking spaces shows yet again that there is no understanding that in the 21st century you need to cater for at least one car per dwelling (allowing for visitors). Apart from that we do not want even more people crammed into Watford, so I'm glad the proposal was be rejected - but it will come back and as others have said, it will go through at some point. When it does, I would rather the whole premises was used for business.[/p][/quote]Disagree on your point about 21st century households having at least one car. It really depends on whereabouts you live. In central Watford there is a lot less reason to have any car at all than in, say, Abbots Langley. If you have grown up in a family with car/s and in an area that relies on them then one might think it a right to have a car. But if you have entered the country or are young and want to avoid an extra cost then it is not a big deal. Agree with the other points though! Maclanx
  • Score: 5

1:03pm Sun 16 Mar 14

Cuetip says...

D_Penn wrote:
I wish a benefactor would come foreward with the money to move the building, brick by brick, in its entirety to a new site where it could be really appreciated. It would look very nice nestled in a corner of say, Cassiobury Park where, perhaps, it could be used as a new housing for Watford Museum.

I would envisage many people leisurely strolling through the park wandering into what would be a beutiful museum building.

Hmmm, perhaps the selling of the Victoria Villa's site and the current Watford Museum site (both better placed for business use) could fund the relocation - indeed a developer might agree to do it for nothing in return for the two sites.

I know it's a 'back of envelope' calculation that I'm making up as I go along, but what do others think? I'd love to see the historic building saved and kept for future generations to enjoy, but I can't see it surviving where it is.
What a splendid idea with of course the mandatory gardens as befits such a treasure !

Find a serene spot in town where you swing a cat or build a purpose built school for small children fit for the century we are in?
[quote][p][bold]D_Penn[/bold] wrote: I wish a benefactor would come foreward with the money to move the building, brick by brick, in its entirety to a new site where it could be really appreciated. It would look very nice nestled in a corner of say, Cassiobury Park where, perhaps, it could be used as a new housing for Watford Museum. I would envisage many people leisurely strolling through the park wandering into what would be a beutiful museum building. Hmmm, perhaps the selling of the Victoria Villa's site and the current Watford Museum site (both better placed for business use) could fund the relocation - indeed a developer might agree to do it for nothing in return for the two sites. I know it's a 'back of envelope' calculation that I'm making up as I go along, but what do others think? I'd love to see the historic building saved and kept for future generations to enjoy, but I can't see it surviving where it is.[/p][/quote]What a splendid idea with of course the mandatory gardens as befits such a treasure ! Find a serene spot in town where you swing a cat or build a purpose built school for small children fit for the century we are in? Cuetip
  • Score: 1

7:53pm Sun 16 Mar 14

Maceo & Fred says...

Shame the council don't feel the same way about Farm Terrace allotments that have been part of the fabric of West watford since 1896.
Shame the council don't feel the same way about Farm Terrace allotments that have been part of the fabric of West watford since 1896. Maceo & Fred
  • Score: 2

9:17am Mon 17 Mar 14

Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford says...

Maceo & Fred wrote:
Shame the council don't feel the same way about Farm Terrace allotments that have been part of the fabric of West watford since 1896.
It's one of those rare occasions where the LibDems haven't decided the outcome before the vote has taken place.

Mark Watkin is out of step with, well just about everyone but the developers.

What would you rather have, an attractive villa where many people made their wedding vows, a much loved location, or a monolithic concrete block?

Mark Watkin needs to go, only he and the developers wants to destroy it and replace it with ugly. Which begs the question, why?
[quote][p][bold]Maceo & Fred[/bold] wrote: Shame the council don't feel the same way about Farm Terrace allotments that have been part of the fabric of West watford since 1896.[/p][/quote]It's one of those rare occasions where the LibDems haven't decided the outcome before the vote has taken place. Mark Watkin is out of step with, well just about everyone but the developers. What would you rather have, an attractive villa where many people made their wedding vows, a much loved location, or a monolithic concrete block? Mark Watkin needs to go, only he and the developers wants to destroy it and replace it with ugly. Which begs the question, why? Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford
  • Score: 3

9:19am Mon 17 Mar 14

Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford says...

We all know why the allotments went.

Money.
We all know why the allotments went. Money. Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford
  • Score: 3

9:56am Mon 17 Mar 14

vickyt34 says...

Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford wrote:
We all know why the allotments went.

Money.
6th of March at 10.37 you posted;

Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford says...

I also know what I would do differently as Mayor. Our manifesto should be on our website next week so please keep an eye out for it. It will explain what we believe needs to change to turn our council into the sort of council people will be proud of.

Where is it Phil?
[quote][p][bold]Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford[/bold] wrote: We all know why the allotments went. Money.[/p][/quote]6th of March at 10.37 you posted; Phil Cox - UKIP Mayoral candidate for Watford says... I also know what I would do differently as Mayor. Our manifesto should be on our website next week so please keep an eye out for it. It will explain what we believe needs to change to turn our council into the sort of council people will be proud of. Where is it Phil? vickyt34
  • Score: -2

1:39pm Mon 17 Mar 14

CaptainPC says...

D_Penn wrote:
I wish a benefactor would come foreward with the money to move the building, brick by brick, in its entirety to a new site where it could be really appreciated. It would look very nice nestled in a corner of say, Cassiobury Park where, perhaps, it could be used as a new housing for Watford Museum.

I would envisage many people leisurely strolling through the park wandering into what would be a beutiful museum building.

Hmmm, perhaps the selling of the Victoria Villa's site and the current Watford Museum site (both better placed for business use) could fund the relocation - indeed a developer might agree to do it for nothing in return for the two sites.

I know it's a 'back of envelope' calculation that I'm making up as I go along, but what do others think? I'd love to see the historic building saved and kept for future generations to enjoy, but I can't see it surviving where it is.
I think you are mad.
[quote][p][bold]D_Penn[/bold] wrote: I wish a benefactor would come foreward with the money to move the building, brick by brick, in its entirety to a new site where it could be really appreciated. It would look very nice nestled in a corner of say, Cassiobury Park where, perhaps, it could be used as a new housing for Watford Museum. I would envisage many people leisurely strolling through the park wandering into what would be a beutiful museum building. Hmmm, perhaps the selling of the Victoria Villa's site and the current Watford Museum site (both better placed for business use) could fund the relocation - indeed a developer might agree to do it for nothing in return for the two sites. I know it's a 'back of envelope' calculation that I'm making up as I go along, but what do others think? I'd love to see the historic building saved and kept for future generations to enjoy, but I can't see it surviving where it is.[/p][/quote]I think you are mad. CaptainPC
  • Score: -2

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