Ambitious plans to transform Watford Junction with a new passenger bridge and thousands of homes are taking shape.

Watford Borough Council says it has secured the support of Homes England — the government agency responsible for delivering new homes ­— for a redevelopment scheme that could bring a £40 million new passenger bridge across the railway line, a new entrance on the east side and 2,500 new homes.

The first phase of the scheme has already been approved, with work on a new entrance and ticket hall in the existing Iveco building in Station Road due to start in spring 2019.

Homes England has agreed in principle to support the costs of the passenger bridge and potentially support with the cost of affordable housing after a visit on November 20 arranged with the help of Watford MP Richard Harrington.

Mayor Taylor said: “It was a fantastic opportunity to show Homes England the outstanding plans we have for Watford Junction. Watford deserves a station fit for the 21st century and our plans will deliver this. We must make sure we have the right infrastructure in place for our town to grow, upgrading our main station, delivering a new bus interchange and better pedestrian routes across the town are critical to get right before we start development."

The total cost of the may be £180 million, with the second phase ­— redevelopment of the bus station due to cost £79 million.

Network Rail, working with developer Kingshott Holdings, has already approved plans for the first phase of work at the station - this does not have to be done through Watford Borough Council.

  • Phase 1: September 2019 to Summer 2020. Revamp of the current entrance and ticket hall in Station Road, with more shops.
  • Phase 2: Summer 2020 to 2023. A 13-storey building with seven floors of office-space and homes on the top two floors. close to the Iveco building, as well as a new bus station with a roof on the current site.
  • Phase 3: 2023 to 2026: A new passenger bridge, with a new entrance and ticket hall on the east side of the railway tracks, a multi-storey car park, and 1,500 new homes on land currently occupied by disused sidings, as well as the resiting of the London Concrete plant. New offices, shops and public spaces.

Mr Taylor said: “We are transforming what is, overall, a run down and under used site into a vibrant hub for people to live and work. I was delighted at how positive the team from Homes England were – not just about what we are planning for Watford Junction but also about the town as a whole.

Watford Borough Council managing director Manny Lewis believes the agreement is "a really big deal".

He said: "It changes the whole geography of the station for the town. The congestion through St Albans Road and Woodford Road is significant. It would immediately ease that.

"Watford Junction has the scope to be a major new residential neighbourhood. Because it is right by the station, those new homes could be built without significant parking and therefore it is a sustainable location.

"But the key to it is improving the infrastructure and that is what this scheme will do."

For the visit on November 20, Homes England had a presentation on the plans for the station area from Jonathan Kingshott of Kingshott Holdings.

Representatives visited Watford on November 20 and saw the station site, the Watford Riverwell scheme and development at Ascot Road and Croxley View.

Both current mayor Peter Taylor and Dorothy Thornhill said the Government's housing targets are impossible in Watford, but this meeting was intended to show Homes England that Watford is intent on building homes where it can.

Mr Lewis added: "We are particularly willing to build these new houses where there is also investment in transport infrastructure and that is where Watford Junction is such a crucial example."

The homes are not the only ones proposed for the area near the station. Developer Berkeley Homes has been consulting on a proposed 1,000 homes on land currently occupied by TK Maxx and The Range with a potential third access point to the station from this site.

Mr Harrington said: "I’m pleased that the meeting I organised went so well. This is an important step for the development of our train station, and delivering much needed housing for the area.”

Mayor Taylor added: “One of the important strengths of our town is how we work together for the good of Watford. Homes England support will be a real boost to the outstanding transformation we want to see at Watford Junction and I am confident that we can build on our strong track record for successful delivery to see this come to fruition."