Plans are in the pipeline for a 300-home “mixed-use neighbourhood” at the former Watford Police Station after the force unveiled their new base.

Residential developer McLaren Living has bought the Clarendon Road site, with Hertfordshire Constabulary having yesterday (December 4) opened the new George Street premises to the public.

McLaren Living has confirmed the planning application, which it intends to submit early next year, will include around 300 build-to-rent homes and approximately 30,000ft² of commercial space.

Watford Observer: A CGI of how the scheme could look if approved.A CGI of how the scheme could look if approved. (Image: McLaren Living)

Matthew Biddle, managing director at McLaren Living’s managing director, said: “We’re really excited to have acquired such a great site, in the commercial heart of Watford, close to local amenities and with excellent connections to London.

“We’re looking forward to working with Watford Borough Council and the local community on our plans for Clarendon Road, to deliver a mixed-use neighbourhood, bringing forward much-needed new homes for rent, along with high-quality commercial space.”

The 1.75-acre site, around 150 metres from Watford Junction, is earmarked in the council’s local plan for mixed-use redevelopment.

McLaren Living says it will now undertake a “comprehensive programme of stakeholder and community engagement and maintain a collaborative approach throughout the design and planning process”.

Watford Observer: Police outside the Shady Lane base, off Clarendon Road, in 1956 and 2023.Police outside the Shady Lane base, off Clarendon Road, in 1956 and 2023. (Image: Herts Police)

Hertfordshire’s police and crime commissioner, David Lloyd, said: “I am pleased to see this conditional sale has exchanged, and once completed will generate additional funding for the constabulary.

“The station on that site had reached the end of its economic life and it was no longer fit for purpose for the demands of officers and staff.

“Watford now has a new thoroughly modern police station in the town centre at 3 George Street.”

The new building was acquired by the PCC in late 2021 and has been refurbished – retaining a front counter service.

The old station and adjacent courthouse – which cost £70,000 to build – initially opened in autumn 1940 during the Second World War, replacing the old Victorian police station on King Street. 

Watford Observer: An aerial view of Shady Lane in 1936 and 2023.An aerial view of Shady Lane in 1936 and 2023. (Image: Herts Police)

Watford Chief Inspector Andy Wiseman – also secretary for the Hertfordshire Constabulary Historical Society – said: “I know many serving and retired officers and staff will hold fond memories of our time at Shady Lane, but in recent years it became apparent that the building no longer provided value for money.

“The new site will be more economical to run, providing approximately 170 colleagues with a bright, airy and pleasant environment to work in and facilities that are in keeping with our hard-working team’s requirements.”

He added: “The town centre location will also ensure that we continue to provide the same level of service to Watford’s residents, businesses and visitors.

“I’m very pleased that we were able to take up residence at George Street in time for Christmas and I’m sure it won’t be long before it feels like home.”

The force plans to preserve “a few pieces of Shady Lane’s history”, such as a witness box from the old courthouse, which they hope to later install at the George Street base.