Concerns about the slow progress redeveloping a Watford neighbourhood, the potential impact of rising business rates on pubs, a celebrity visit and the unveiling of one of the highlights of Warner Bros. new studio tour were among the stories making the headlines in the Watford Observer five and ten years ago this week.


'We feel we are the lost estate of Watford': Neighbours concerned about overdue estate development

A resident’s association has become annoyed after their neighbourhood has become a ‘pile of rubbish’.

The Boundary Way Community Group, from Boundary Way, in Watford, has continuously complained to Watford Community Housing Trust about the state of their estate.

Watford Observer:

In 2014 planning permission was granted to develop parts of the Boundary Way estate including demolishing garages, shops and a community centre to make room for brand new builds which were due to be completed by January this year.

Judith Moores, 48, a committee member, said: “We feel we are the lost estate of Watford. No one wants to listen to us.

“All this work should have been finished by January but it seems the contractors never finish one job but move around.”

Watford Observer:

The Three Crowns landlord Michael Duffy thinks pubs may have to lay off staff

Staff cuts and pint price hikes possible for Watford pubs facing rates increase

Many pubs and bars in Watford could be forced to lay off staff or increase the price of a pint in the face of sharply increasing business rates, according to one pub landlord.

Calculations on the government website show a few town centre pubs are in line for massive increases in their rateable values, such as Colombia Press on The Parade which is due to rise from £95,000 a year to an estimated £165,000.

Performing arts theatre Jongleurs, also on The Parade, is projected to pay £322,500 in business rates in the coming year, nearly double the £189,000 it paid in 2016.

Michael Duffy, who has been the publican at The Three Crowns in Bushey for nearly 17 years, said the effects will be far reaching if the increases go ahead as planned in April.

“The knock on effect goes on all the way down the line. Businesses are going to examine all costs, including staff,” he said.

Watford Observer:

An artist's impression of the Health Campus

Plans for first Health Campus homes officially submitted

Plans for the first round of homes under the Watford Health Campus scheme have been officially submitted.

The proposal to build 95 flats across three blocks on land at Willow Lane will form the first phase of residential development at the Heath Campus site, which will henceforth be known as Watford Riverwell.

Of the 95 properties, five will be made available as social housing and 24 will be intermediate housing – falling between social housing and open market housing.

The development will also contain communal gardens, and spaces for 61 cars and 95 bicycles.


Watford Observer:

Hogwarts unveiled as Harry Potter exhibition gets ever closer to opening

As Warner Bros. puts the finishing touches to its Harry Potter tour, a new set piece was unveiled at its base in Leavesden Studios.

The magical Hogwarts Castle, regarded as the "jewel" of the studio’s art department, is set to take its place among the many authentic sets, props and costumes from the boy wizard’s eight films.

Hand-sculpted, the 1:24 scale construction will act as the grand finale to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, in Aerodrome Way, which opens on March 31.

Watford Observer:

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visits West Herts College

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was in Watford to visit an apprenticeship training scheme.

The Liberal Democrat leader was shown around West Herts College, in Hempstead Road.

He was given a tour of the facilities there and met some of the young apprentices enrolled at the college.

He said: "Coming to this gleaming building is fantastic. It is incredible, spectacular and full of wonderful young people."

Watford Observer:

Deputy manager Jacque Narcisse Brennan, left, with Frankie Cocozza and Jonathan Bas

X-Factor's Frankie makes it to Rehab at second attempt

Former X-Factor and Celebrity Big Brother contestant Frankie Cocozza visited a bar in Watford this weekend to meet his fans.

The 19-year-old singer visited Rehab in The Parade after cancelling his previous date last month due to "unforeseen circumstances".

Jon Bas, the owner of the bar, was extremely pleased with the visit from the young celebrity.

He said: "It was really busy and he had a lot of attention – people loved him. No other guest has been as friendly and as professional as he was. We had no negative feedback at all."