Developers have been given permission to tear down a Victorian villa in central Watford to make way for a six-storey office and flats development.

Watford politicians said they would "mourn" the loss of 36 Clarendon Road but that new plans for the 34-flat development were difficult to turn down.

The scheme has met with strong opposition from councillors who say the former registry office, which was built in the 1860s, is an important part of the town’s heritage.

Watford Observer:

The approved proposals for the office and flats.

People living in the neighbouring Garlet Road also objected to the development saying it would invade their privacy.

Last night’s decision came after the council’s development control committee rejected a previous application for a 36-flat development in March.

The applicants, Hertfordshire County Council and V Fund Limited, then submitted plans for a smaller version, which removed two seventh-floor penthouse flats.

At the committee’s meeting, John Berrisford, from nearby Gartlet Road, said the new design was still unacceptable to neighbouring residents.

He said: "This creates a massive visual intrusion into our privacy."

The Gartlet Road residents were backed up by central Watford Liberal Democrat councillor, Helen Lynch, who urged the committee to reject the plans because of the villa’s historical significance.

However Douglas Bond, who spoke on behalf of the applicants, said the only grounds the committee had rejected the original proposals on in March were the building’s bulk and height.

He said these issues had now been addressed in the new application.

During the ensuing debate, Nigel Bell, a Labour councillor for Holywell, said he felt the new plans were better than the original ones but that development would still affect the privacy of residents in Gartlet Road.

Oxhey Lib Dem, Iain Sharpe, said he felt the committee did not have strong enough grounds to throw out the new proposal.

He added: "I feel on an emotional level sympathy with the neighbouring residents but I feel this scheme has crossed a line from being unacceptable to one we would find hard to turn down."

Watford Observer:

The initial seven-storey theme, which was rejected in March.

Yet Rabi Martins, a Liberal Democrat for central Watford, said he was not happy about losing the villa, which used to the home of Sir Dennis Herbert, Watford’s MP between 1918 and 1943.

He said: "I would regret very much losing any locally listed building. It is unfortunate that English Heritage did not agree with us (that it should be nationally listed) and I will mourn its loss significantly as I am sure other residents will. But we cannot protect it."