Home scheme hit by gas and cash

A scheme to redevelop more than 140 homes at Bedmond Green has ground to a halt after four years amid financial, technical and planning obstacles. Uppermost among these is the fear that the Toms Lane Playing Fields next to the award-winning 1960s estate, which the council originally planned to use in the redevelopment, may conceal deadly gas deposits, possibly of methane. In the light of a new report from Crown officials that extreme care must be taken in siting new developments within 250 metres of such areas, the Three Rivers Council Housing Committee agreed on Tuesday to make urgent investigations.

[June 2, 1989]

New rail network

A new rail network could link Watford Business Park with British Rail and underground services as well as retail centres such as the Harlequin Centre and ASDA superstore. The rail system would be cheap to install and run, while at the same time easing traffic choked South West Hertfordshire, and negating the need to build yet more roads in the district. Plans for the network have already been devised, and have the backing of Hertfordshire County Council’s Labour group. Known as the Colne Valley Transit, it would result in continuous rail services from Chesham through Chorleywood, Rickmansworth, Croxley Green and Watford to St Albans City. Residential and key commercial centres like Watford Business Park, the Croxley Centre and Imperial Way, Watford, could be connected, as well as retail outlets like the Harlequin Centre, Tesco, ASDA and Sainsbury’s Homebase.

[June 2, 1989]

Young leap homes queue by eviction

Young people are so desperate to set up home in Watford that they are making themselves homeless in order to jump the council house waiting queue. They are making themselves homeless by getting a friend or relative to take out an eviction order against them. On eviction they are classed as homeless and jump the housing list, Watford Borough Council’s Housing Services Committee has been told. The queue-jumpers are creating such a problem that the council is investigating the idea of buying private homes and dividing them into short term hostels.

[June 9, 1989]

Charter Place facelift

A project aimed at putting the heart back into Watford Town Centre is about to begin. Focal point of the £27million scheme to refurbish Charter Place will be a central covered piazza. An improved and extended market is another major feature of the new development, which will include a community hall, crèche, two restaurants and 300,000 sq ft of retail floor space. Charter Place is to become a key entrance to the new Harlequin Centre but is to retain its own individual character and design.

[June 9, 1989]

Guardian angels

Martial arts instructor Shane Knock dares to care. He is the first in Britain to graduate from a school of a rather different thought – keeping the peace Guardian Angel style. Among with 29 others, Shane, an Australian kickboxing instructor at Watford’s YMCA, survived three gruelling months of training to become London’s equivalent of the New York Guardian Angels, patrolling the London Underground. With their red berets and T-shirts emblazoned with a large eye and wings, the Guardian Angels have set themselves up as a deterrent against crime. Trained in unarmed combat, they are taught to disarm and deal with knife attacks, muggings and rapes.

[June 16, 1989]

Developers hone in on Rolls-Royce

Plans are being drawn up to build an industrial estate and business park on land currently occupied by Rolls-Royce’s Leavesden helicopter engine factory. Land has been earmarked by developers as a top spot for a business park. The land has a very high value, which could encourage the Ministry of Defence, who own the land, to sell when the lease expires in 1992.

[June 16, 1989]

Hot spell

Twice as much water than usual was used in Watford during the hot weather spell, said water chiefs this week. They are appealing to customers to cut back on usage to avoid imposition of a hosepipe ban during the sizzling weather. Colne Valley Water Company has, however, decided to prohibit the use of sprinklers and hoses in St Albans, Harpenden, Redbourn and Wheathampstead from today.

[June 23, 1989]

Listed building destroyed by fire

Parts of an historic building in Watford were destroyed by a blaze, which took more than 30 firemen five hours to fight on Wednesday. Classrooms were destroyed at the former Reed’s School in Orphanage Road, more recently Department of Employment offices. The fire caused parts of the building to collapse. The building was Grade II listed and developers Heron Homes were converting it into flats and offices as well as building some new homes on the 20-acre site.

[June 23, 1989]

Ancient ritual in shopping centre

Thanks to Watford Councillor Bill Everett, no evil spirits will be inhabiting the new Harlequin Centre when it opens next year. For the ancient topping out ceremony he performed recently was designed to ward off such evil presence. Cllr Everett was accompanied by Mayoress Sheila Watts and nearly 100 special guests on the top of what will be the new 200,000 sq ft Trewins department store.

[June 23, 1989]

Plans for leisure complex

Leisure dome plans to build an entertainment complex on Watford’s Woodside golf driving range are back on the cards after a Watford Borough Council meeting on Monday. The go-ahead for new plans to be submitted for a reduced development with more parking was given. Original plans included a nightclub, theme pub, six bars, 10 screen cinema, 24 lane bowling alley, ice rink, restaurant and fast food outlet. Following intense public pressure last year the nightclub, theme bar and fast food outlets were scrapped.

[June 30, 1989]

What was happening in the world in June 1989?

• Fighting breaks out in the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic between ethnic Uzbeks and the Turkish minority; more than 100 people are killed by June 15 (June 3)

• The Tiananmen Square crackdown takes place in Beijing on the army’s approach to the square, and the final stand-off is covered live on television (June 4)

• An unknown Chinese protestor, ‘Tank Man’, stands in front of a column of military tanks in Beijing, an incident which achieves iconic status through images taken by photographers (June 5)

• The Ayatollah Khomeini’s first funeral is aborted after a large crowd storms the funeral procession, nearly destroying the coffin (June 6)

• The wreck of the German battleship Bismarck, which was sunk in 1941, is located 600 miles west of France (June 13)

• A crowd of 250,000 gathers at Heroes Square in Budapest for the historic reburial of Imre Nagy, the former Hungarian prime minster who had been executed in 1958 (June 16)

• British police arrest 250 people for celebrating the summer solstice at Stonehenge (June 21)