Plans for Watford’s tallest ever tower block were approved by a planning committee last night.

Six councillors voted in favour for a scheme to redevelop The Range and TK Maxx site in St Albans Road into 1,214 homes – to the dismay of those who were sat in the public gallery at Watford town hall.

There was a cry of ‘shame on you’ and some boos as committee chairman Cllr Peter Jeffree officially approved the scheme.

Eleven towers will be built by Berkeley Homes on the site of the current retail park, which backs onto Watford Junction. They will range from eight to 28 storeys in height – with the 28 storey tower eclipsing the 24 storey tower that was approved in Ascot Road back in 2017.

Moustafa Alam, who lives in Yarmouth Road, spoke for five minutes against the scheme, citing the visual impact, parking, traffic, and the strain on public services, as to reasons why the plans should not go ahead.

Although he accepts the site is suitable for redevelopment, he called for more underground parking, and buildings of 13 storeys instead.

North Watford county councillor Asif Khan, who is not on the planning committee, gave a speech referring to the scale of the buildings. He said Watford was a “market town of Hertfordshire” and not an “inner borough of London” and called for the proposals to go back.

Callowland councillor Ian Stotesbury, speaking in a similar capacity to Cllr Khan, said there were grounds for the scheme to be deferred, and the number of affordable homes reviewed.

Watford Observer:

An image from the council chamber during the meeting on Monday night

When the debate was opened to the committee, councillors favoured redevelopment on the site, but some were concerned about the size of some of the proposed buildings.

Cllr Nigel Bell, who is Labour group leader, described the scale of the development as “over the top”.

He proposed a motion to refuse the scheme on the basis of over-density, but he was told by a planning officer that this would be described as a “weak reason”.

Cllr Karen Collett, deputy mayor at Watford Borough Council, was concerned Watford taxpayers could be forced to pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds in fines if the council lost an appeal had they refused the scheme.

In the end, after 11 minutes of debate, the scheme was passed by six to three, with one councillor abstaining.

Alongside 1,200 plus homes, the St Albans Road scheme will deliver a primary school and nursery.

Watford Observer:

A CGI of the primary school which will have capacity for 420 pupils

There is also an agreement for Berkeley Homes to make a financial contribution of around £1 million to GP and secondary school provision in the area.

A little over 200 parking spaces are proposed and the number of affordable homes will be 107 – representing 8.8 per cent of the total number of homes.

Pre-development director of Berkeley Homes, Daniel Massie, described this scheme as one “Watford can be proud of, delivering much-needed sustainable homes”.

He added: “We understand that local people have concerns about the height of the buildings. Working with all consultees, we have given careful consideration to the location of tall buildings within the masterplan.

"This is to ensure they have minimal impact on the surrounding area, by locating them on the eastern boundary of the site and away from existing properties off St Albans Road.”