Councillors have agreed to sell-off a strip of land in Watford that had been earmarked for use in the construction of the Met Line Extension (MLX).

The Ascot Road site, purchased by Hertfordshire County Council in 2009, would have initially been used as a construction compound and later as a car park, as part of a transport interchange.

But there are currently no plans for MLX, also known as the Croxley Rail Link, or any other transport proposal - and therefore the site is "surplus to requirements".

On Monday, a meeting of the county council’s cabinet agreed that the 1.54-acre site could be 'sold' to Cortland Developments Limited, which is already constructing more than 400 homes in Ascot Road, including a 24 storey tower, on a neighbouring site near Morrisons.

Watford Observer:

Ascot Road redevelopment pictured on Tuesday

Under the terms of the 'sale', rather than capital payment, the council would offer part of the land on a long 250-year lease that would generate an annual income.

The financial benefits a sale would bring for the council have been kept under wraps for the time being.

But land at the northern end of the site would be kept available through a separate lease, so it could still be used should the MLX plan or any other transport plan come forward again in the future.

The report presented to the cabinet suggests by taking on a lease, Cortland can expand its current scheme and build a further 202 homes on the land owned by the council, subject to receiving planning permission.

The report added that Cortland has already been in discussions with Watford Borough Council regarding development opportunities at the site in question.

Construction is well underway in Ascot Road to build 485 homes, including 170 which have been designated as affordable.

Watford Observer:

A 24-storey tower is being constructed in Ascot Road

Watford Observer:

Nigel Bell is a Labour county councillor for West Watford and borough councillor for Holywell in the west of the town.

He said: "As the county councillor for West Watford, I would be happy if part of the land is kept in reserve for any future transport project.

"But I would not be happy if there is a deal that allows hundreds more flats to be crammed into west Watford yet again.

"With up to 600 flats planned for Sydney Road, just down the road, west Watford would be at breaking point."

Watford Observer:

CGI of flats which have been approved in Sydney Road

MLX was a proposal to extend the Met Line extension from Croxley Green to Watford Junction.

Two stations would have been created - one near Watford Business Park and a second in Vicarage Road by the hospital, Watford FC, and the new Riverwell development.

Watford Met station in Cassiobury Park Avenue would have closed.

But in 2018, London mayor Sadiq Khan pulled the plug on the scheme for financial reasons, despite then Watford MP Richard Harrington offering a £73m shortfall for the project.