Renewed bid to demolish Victorian villa after 'oppressive and monolithic' plans previously rejected

12:30pm Tuesday 3rd June 2014

Developers are making a renewed bid to demolish a Victorian villa in central Watford to make way for a large flats and office development.

Hertfordshire County Council and V Fund Limited have submitted plans for a smaller building to replace the former registry office in 36 Clarendon Road.

The original proposal was rejected by politicians in March on the grounds it was too large and bulky for the location, which is next to the Estcourt Conservation area.

Watford Observer:

The old plans

The original plans ran into opposition from people in the area who complained the planned development was "oppressive and monolithic" and would dwarf nearby homes.

Councillors for the area also argued the building should be preserved due to its historical value to the town and said it could be used for a new school in the town centre.

The new proposals are due to come to Watford Council’s development control committee on Thursday and planning officials have recommended them for approval.

The revised design sees the number of flats reduced from 36 to 34, removing two penthouse flats to make the design down from seven storeys to six.

Watford Observer:

The new plans

A report on the proposal said: "This application proposes an amended design for the residential element which deletes the two roof level flats and introduces new materials to break up the visual dominance of the brickwork on the east facing elevation. It is considered that this revised design overcomes the reason for refusal and is acceptable."

The current building was built around 1865 and was the home of Watford’s MP between 1918 and 1943, Sir Dennis Herbert. In more recent times it was the town’s registry office.

Planners said although the building was reminiscent of how Clarendon Road used to look, it was now incongruous against the more modern office blocks.

They also said it was unlikely the building would find a new use in its current state.

The report said: "The proposal will result in the total loss of the locally listed Victorian villa on the site and thereby substantial harm to this asset. However, the building itself is not considered to be of significant merit due to its limited architectural and historic interest.

"It is also not able to provide the quality or quantity of modern office floorspace required by the designation of Clarendon Road as the town’s prime office area. Its potential use is very limited and the likelihood of it being brought back into use is consequently very low."

The report added that the developers had agreed to make at least 35 per cent of the flats affordable and to pay more than £150,000 towards local infrastructure, including a new children’s play area.


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