Shoppers at intu Watford will no longer have to push through doors in the middle of the centre after long term plans to install new doors were given the go ahead last night.

Permission was granted by Watford Borough Council to install automatic doors in Queens Road, and the doors which people currently have to use to enter and exit the shopping centre will be removed.

The scheme was controversial, and intu have only been successful at the second attempt after they faced a backlash from traders in Queens Road in 2015 who believed the new doors will deter people from shopping in The Broadway.

intu returned with new proposals, including ensuring the automatic doors were see through, putting signage in their centre directing people towards The Broadway, constructing a shopping directory for The Broadway by the nearby fly-over and creating a small children’s play area and improving the landscaping between intu and the fly-over.

Watford Observer:

An impression of the new store directory and landscaping towards The Broadway

At the council meeting last night, only one person was there to speak against the application but it was not anyone from Queens Road.

Instead, it was Clive Jones, a cyclist.

One of the reasons intu wanted to build the new doors was to stop cyclists from riding freely through. The company said they had witnessed too many close calls between cyclists and pedestrians who were walking between the shopping malls.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Jones, who is a member of the South West Herts Cycling Group (Spokes) said: “This is the only crossing we have as cyclists and it is being turned into a shopping centre. This is not a highway anymore. This scheme only works for intu.”

Queens Road will be maintained as a highway, but downgraded to a footpath, and will remain under the control of Hertfordshire County Council.

A view of Queens Road from the High Street towards The Broadway. Automatic doors will be installed at either end. One set of doors will be fitted in the rectangular space pictured.

The new doors in Queens Road will be automatic and fully glazed. They will open when people walk towards them, during intu opening hours.

When intu is shut, the doors will be fixed open. Shutters will be pulled down where the existing doors are to prevent access into the shopping centre.

When completed, shoppers will be freely able to walk from one side of the shopping centre to the other, but cyclists will have to dismount, and walk through at the crossroads.

Watford Observer:

How the new Queens Road layout could look

Councillors on the planning committee acknowledged the changes made from the previous application which Cllr David Sharpe described (the previous one) as “unacceptable”.

All councillors voted through the application apart from Cllr Mo Mills who abstained.

Cllr Steve Bolton, who has held several meetings with Queens Road traders and the Queens Road Community Action Group, spoke at the meeting and said “significant improvements” had been secured from 2015.

intu has agreed with Watford Borough Council that it has to meet all the conditions such as signage and landscaping before it installs the new doors.

Watford Observer:

The intu extension was completed this year in what had been a major year for intu Watford

Following a summer of consultation and meetings with traders, Vicki Costello, general manager at intu Watford, was “delighted” with the outcome of last night.

She said: “We’re delighted with the decision and I would like to thank everybody who took the time to respond to our public consultation and help us shape the proposals. We look forward to making the area safer and much more welcoming, both for our visitors and the wider Watford community.”

The doors are expected to be fitted this year.