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Morrisons development plan for old Royal Mail depot, in Ascot Road, unveiled
Residents caught their first glimpse of what the West Watford Morrisons development, which promises to bring 300 new jobs to the area, could look like today.
The supermarket chain revealed its designs to turn the vacant Ascot Road Royal Mail Depot into a superstore with offices, houses, a hotel and a potential new school.
The proposals showed the supermarket on the southern end of the site, with the 450-space car park on the western side behind it.
North of the supermarket are two blocks of new houses and flats with a new school on the north western side of the site.
The Ascot Road side of the site is earmarked for a new hotel and new offices which are surrounded by trees.
The drawings were unveiled in a presentation inside the old depot this afternoon.
Richard Haynes, development executive for Morrisons, said: “This site has got massive potential for regeneration and is desperately in need of it, especially since the sorting office has closed.
“It will bring jobs back and make it a much more pleasant place for people to be.”
The move comes as Morrisons, which has most of its stores in the north of the country, is undertaking a push to expand its presence in the south.
The corporation secured a long lease on the Watford Borough Council-owned site a few months ago.
The regeneration scheme comes after it was announced a new Metropolitan Line tube station will be built nearby in Ascot Road as part of the Croxley Rail Link.
Since Morrisons acquired the Royal Mail depot it has fallen victim to vandals and break-ins, leaving the inside of the vast building strewn with rubbish and with windows smashed.
In recent weeks the company has hired security to protect the site.
The redevelopment plans are still at an early stage and could be altered, but Morrisons hope to have a formal planning application submitted by the summer.
If the plan is approved the company said the store could be open for Christmas 2013.
Early reaction to the scheme was largely positive, although residents voiced concerns that it could draw more traffic to West Watford’s already congested roads.
Jenny Thomas, from Cassiobury Park Avenue, welcomed the superstore but was concerned more homes could add more pressure to local services such as GP.
She said: “I think it is good, this site needs redevelopment and there is no supermarket on this side of West Watford.”
Another interested resident at today’s presentation was unemployed 50-year-old, David Tyarman, of Whippendell Road, who lost his job at Krispy Kreme doughnuts earlier this year.
He said had been interested to know when the store would be recruiting.
Mr Tyarman added: “It’s only around the corner. I will be able to do my shopping here as well.”
The presentation is open again tomorrow at the Royal Mail depot in Ascot Road between 10am to 4pm.