Plans to create a new dessert parlour in Watford town centre have been refused because there are not enough retail shops in the high street.

Heavenly Desserts wanted to open a branch at a vacant site next door to The Moon Under Water pub, which was most recently The Fone Workshop and Fones Hub.

But Watford Borough Council has dashed the company's plans.

It is because the council has a policy that a certain number of shopfronts in the high street are for retail use.

A planning policy within the Watford District Plan 2000 states that 80 per cent of neighbouring shopfronts (five either side) to any building in the high street are used for retail.

Out of 14 units along this strip of units where Heavenly Desserts want to build, only four are in retail use which is roughly 29 per cent.

Because Heavenly Desserts sought to change the use of the ground floor of the building from retail to food, the council officer could not approve the plans because it went against the policy and would have taken the council even further away from the 80 per cent threshold.

Watford Observer:

Credit: Gus Sivyer

Officially, the application was refused because it resulted in the loss of a retail unit, therefore risking the "retail character" for this part of the town.

However, the council does recognise that retail trends are "changing" and customers now seek a town centre "experience" rather than just shopping.

Therefore as part of its emerging local plan 2020-2036, the council is changing the percentage of required retail units from 80 per cent to 60 per cent.

Heavenly Desserts, which has 15 outlets across the country, would have created five to 10 full time staff roles and 10 to 15 part-time jobs in Watford had its plans been successful.

Watford Observer:

Heavenly Desserts in Bolton. Credit: Gus Sivyer

The company argued the parlour would have improved the existing property and lifted the street scene thanks to "high quality signage and interior".