People’s perceptions of Watford are changing and a £16million government grant will help build on work already underway, the town's mayor has said.

Borough leaders have secured the money for works at The Colosseum, where some of the iconic Lord of the Rings and Sound of Music soundtracks were recorded.

A portion of the money will also go towards High Street regeneration in the new Town Hall Quarter, which the borough council hopes will become an innovation hub for businesses.

The £16,021,788 cash injection was announced today (November 20) and will come from the government’s flagship Levelling Up Fund, worth £4.8billion.

Watford mayor Peter Taylor said: “We are extremely pleased that the government has recognised the outstanding potential our plans offer Watford and our community.

“This funding will help us forge ahead with delivering our ambitions for this area of the town, unlocking economic growth and driving further investment in Watford.

“This will mean new jobs and opportunities for local people as well as an exciting new venue to see some outstanding live performances.

“It is a big vote of confidence in Watford and the council and shows we are a town that makes the right decisions for our community and our future.”

Dean Russell, Conservative MP for Watford, said: “I would like to thank the UK Government for this huge investment and vote of confidence in Watford, which will see The Colosseum and Town Hall focused as a brilliant and vibrant cultural hub in our town.

“We will also see a business hub in Watford which will be superb for supporting existing businesses and new businesses alike.

“This will undoubtedly lead to further economic growth in Watford and the surrounding areas.

“I am proud to be able to champion Watford in Parliament and this investment will further revitalise Watford, generate additional jobs and undoubtedly provide a solid foundation for the decades to come.”

Watford Borough Council’s Town Hall Quarter project features plans for a hub to support community organisations, a “revitalised” museum and a refurbishment at The Colosseum worth more than £12.4million.

The arts venue, where One Direction held their debut tour gig in 2011, is shut while works take place but is due to reopen in 2024, managed by AEG, the company responsible for Greenwich’s The O2 and New York’s Terminal 5.