Major changes planned to the heart of Watford, the retirement of a much-loved headteacher, a row over the fate of allotments and a reunion of workers at one of the town’s best known employers were among the stories making our headlines five and ten years ago this week


Car restrictions and major road layout changes planned for Watford High Street

Drastic traffic restrictions and road layout changes in the heart of Watford town centre have been proposed as part of the ongoing redevelopment of a shopping centre.

The council-owned Charter Place Shopping Centre is currently being rebuilt and integrated with the existing intu Watford centre, creating a single 1.4 million sq ft retail destination.

Due to the expected increase in footfall resulting from the £180 million scheme, plans to create a “high quality pedestrian-friendly environment” have been put forward.

Watford Observer:

Cllrs Rabi Martins and Stephen Giles-Medhurst, and Watford resident Nikki Herron, are all in favour of the pedestrianisation project

Reductions in on-street parking and traffic flow from Clarendon Road to Market Street are being sought, as well as a review on how buses use this stretch.

The installation of rising bollards at each end of the proposal area has also been suggested, operating during evenings and weekends to ensure only buses and commercial vehicles have access.

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The proposed development site on St Albans Road. Picture Google Maps

Plans for block of flats rejected for being too ugly

Plans to build a new block of flats in Watford have been rejected because they are considered too ugly.

Developers proposed knocking down the existing van showroom and associated office buildings in St Albans Road, replacing them with a four-storey building containing 23 flats – nine of them one-bedroom units and 14 of them two-bedroom.

The proposal also included plans to modify the access junction to St Albans Road to provide 23 parking spaces for the inhabitants of the block.

Despite not objecting to the scheme in principal, members of Watford Borough Council’s development management committee rejected the proposal on a number of grounds, including the style “falling short of meeting the requirements for good design”, instead being described as “adequate at best”.

Watford Observer:

Gabby Franklin poses with some of the children on her last day

Much-loved headteacher retires after outstanding 43-year career

Children and teachers waved goodbye to a much-loved pillar of the community today as a celebrated pre-school headteacher completed her final day of a 43-year career.

At the tender age of 72, Gabby Franklin decided to step down from the position that has formed the bulk of her life’s work – setting up and running the Knutsford Community Pre-school, in Knutsford Avenue, Watford.

Gabby formed the school more than four decades ago after deciding there was a lack of suitable early years education in the area.

The school started life in an Imperial Way scout hut but was forced to move into the classrooms of Knutsford School as it became more and more popular.

Gabby created the school from scratch, fundraising for equipment as she went.


Watford Health Campus embroiled in political row

The Watford Health Campus became embroiled in a political row this week as borough councillors split over whether allotment land should be used in the project.

At a full Watford Borough Council meeting the opposition Labour party tabled a motion calling on the ruling Liberal Democrat group to protect the Farm Terrace Allotments.

However ruling Liberal Democrats rejected the idea, saying it would be tying their hands behind their back in the negotiations over the £1bn project.

The council is set to decide on a private developer to carry out the project, which will see a new hospital, hundreds of new homes and new businesses built on the land behind Vicarage Road.

Watford Observer:

Kunal Vattani, dentist to the Olympic stars

Olympic dentist keeping competitors' teeth in gold medal condition

A Watford dentist is to take part in this summer’s Olympics Games, working in a group of health professionals on hand to treat the athletes.

Kunal Vattani, of Ridge Lane, applied for the role 18 months ago, after hearing that places were available on the team. Following an interview, he was offered the job.

During the games he will be based in Royal Holloway, where the canoe sprint athletes will be staying before they attend their events.

Dr Vattani said: "I cannot wait to be part of this historical event and to meet all the athletes.

"This is the kind of thing I have never been involved with before and it is a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Watford Observer:

Sun Printers employees attend reunion

More than 60 former employees of Watford's Sun Printers attended a reunion.

The 16th annual reunion was held in the Croxley Green Royal British Legion, in Watford Road.

Maurice Saunders said: "It was excellent, very good, people have called me saying what a great evening it was and that they had seen people they hadn't seen for ages."