Plans for extra flats at Watford’s largest redevelopment scheme have been given the go-ahead at the second time of asking.

Berkeley Homes secured permission from Watford Borough Council last night (June 7) to add 53 homes to the 1,214 it had approved in 2019 in St Albans Road.

The scale and size of the buildings - some of which rise to 28 and 24 storeys - will not change, but the housing mix is being amended with more studio flats being introduced.

The increase in studio flats (101 out of 703 flats in four buildings) had raised concerns from the planning committee in May but after choosing to defer the application, members were advised by council officers refusal risked the council paying out appeal costs.

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Watford Observer: Gates to the construction site in St Albans Road. The site was formerly home to The RangeGates to the construction site in St Albans Road. The site was formerly home to The Range

At the latest meeting, no members of the planning committee could find any “sound” reasons to reject the extra 53 flats.

Alice George, who lives in Watford, urged members to vote the application down, citing the “negative” mental health effect of single-room living and the failure to meet the council’s affordable housing provision policy.

She added: “Watford councillors were voted in to represent their community, not the profits of Berkeley Group, not the Government planning targets. If you’re unwilling to oppose schemes detrimental to your citizens, then what is the point in having a local council.”

Watford Observer: The application to amend the design and layout of four building was discussed at Watford town hall on June 7. Credit: Watford Borough CouncilThe application to amend the design and layout of four building was discussed at Watford town hall on June 7. Credit: Watford Borough Council

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North Watford Labour county councillor Asif Khan also spoke against, describing the scheme as “unpopular” and accused Berkeley Homes of trying to push something through against the “democratic will of the people”.

Tom Anthony, planning and development manager at Berkeley Homes, said the studio flats are in response to a “changing” housing market.

He added the 53 homes will not make the development any more profitable because of rising building costs.

The six Liberal Democrat members voted to approve the extra homes. The three Labour members abstained.

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Watford Observer: This was one of the early CGIs released showing what the scheme could look like. Credit: Berkeley HomesThis was one of the early CGIs released showing what the scheme could look like. Credit: Berkeley Homes

Berkeley’s Eight Gardens scheme, on the site that was formerly The Range, will include 11 buildings of 1,267 homes – 8.8 per cent will be designated as affordable. Locals have likened it to that of Manhattan in New York. There will be around 200 parking spaces.

A gym, restaurants, cafes, a pub, public square, and open spaces are also planned and there are also plans for a primary school.