- The Local Plan and the Spatial Strategy
- Planning policies to guide development
- Sites for development
- Chapter 1: A Spatial Strategy for Watford
- Chapter 2: Core Development Area
- Chapter 3: Homes for a Growing Community
- Chapter 4: A Strong Economy
- Chapter 5: A Vibrant Town
- Chapter 6: An Attractive Town
- Chapter 7: The Historic Environment
- Chapter 8: A Climate Emergency
- Chapter 9: Conserving and Enhancing the Environment
- Chapter 10: Infrastructure
- Chapter 11: A Sustainable Travel Town
- Chapter 12: A Healthy Community
- Chapter 13: Site Allocations and New Development
Watford Final Draft Local Plan 2018-2036
Core Development Area
2.1 The Core Development Area constitutes 8% of the built area of Watford (2,150 hectares), and is an area where significant revitalisation and transformative change are expected to bring new investment in the town (Figure 2.1).
2.2 The Core Development Area comprises three distinct locations, based on their character and the opportunities that each presents to contribute towards making Watford a place that people want to be and where businesses want to invest.
2.3 These areas are:
- Watford Gateway, which is focused on the transport hub of Watford Junction and business district of Clarendon Road;
- The Town Centre, where the majority of the retail and leisure offer of the borough is located; and
- The Colne Valley, which encompasses the out-of-town retail area, hospital and stadium and adjoins the River Colne flowing through the area.
2.4 The scale of development envisaged in the Core Development Area during the plan period provides opportunities to deliver new homes and provide more employment space for businesses, infrastructure to support new development and community facilities to make the area a focal point for the borough. To help achieve the vision and deliver the objectives of the Local Plan, the policies and site allocations have been informed by the Watford Sustainability Strategy (2019). Applicants will need to embed sustainability principles, such as; appropriate land uses, active travel, energy and water efficiency, and good design resulting in high quality buildings and public realm into their proposals.
2.5 The requirements set out in the policy for each Strategic Development Area are to be considered alongside other planning policies in the Local Plan and applied collectively. Further information about site-specific allocation considerations and requirements are set out in Chapter 13 'Site Allocations and New Development'. FF
Watford Gateway Strategic Development Area
2.6 The Watford Gateway Strategic Development Area encompasses 31 hectares of land north of the town centre and comprises two key locations in the town; the Watford Junction railway and bus station, surrounding retail and employment land and Clarendon Road, which is the primary business district in the area (Figure 2.2).
2.7 Nearly all of this Strategic Development Area sits within the High Sustainability Area (Figure 1.1). This area is recognised by the Hertfordshire Growth Board as one of the key locations for redevelopment in the county.
Watford Junction Station area
2.8 The railway and bus station provide the main transport interchange for the town, in conjunction with five other railway stations in Watford. These provide excellent connections to London, Milton Keynes and further north to Birmingham and destinations beyond. With good access to local services, facilities, employment and leisure activities the Watford Gateway area provides a focal point for sustainable development.
2.9 The station, including the associated public realm, is to be improved, to increase capacity and make for better access to services and facilities to help people intuitively find where they are going using rail, bus, cycle, pedestrian and taxi facilities, as part of a modern transport hub.
2.10 The area north of the station along Station Road and Bridle Path is characterised as an area with inconsistent urban grain. New schemes should make use of design opportunities to reinstate a network of streets that improve the layout of the area. Schemes should be designed to improve connections with the residential area north of St Albans Road, including the pedestrian link from the station along the railway line to St Albans Road.
2.11 Clarendon Road acts as a sub-regional business centre that provides offices to businesses that require good access to London, but which do not necessarily need to be located in the city. The objective of the area during the plan period is for Clarendon Road to continue to be a focal point for high value office uses and the primary link between Watford Junction station and the town centre.
2.12 Proposals should reflect the potential of Clarendon Road as an area of high density development, while having regard to its underlying character. Where buildings of greater height than adjacent areas are proposed close to low lying residential areas, they will need designed so that they minimise their impact on the amenity of residents and demonstrate how they have embraced a transition from higher density development to areas of a different residential character. Where possible, taller parts of a building should be designed to have a frontage on the main road while the lower areas of a scheme should be located closer to areas characterised by lower building height.
2.13 To improve the quality of the environment along Clarendon Road, proposals should be designed to ensure there is a good relationship between new buildings, their frontages and street users. They should also create a positive route for people walking and cycling between the station and the town centre. Frontages along the side streets should also focus on making a positive contribution to the street scene.
Land east of the railway line
2.14 Land east of Watford Junction Station and the railway lines consists primarily of industrial, storage and distribution uses including a concrete batching plant and rail aggregates depot. These premises generally support businesses that have low jobs per square metre. They make a contribution towards sustainable development by providing local jobs for industries where future land allocations is extremely limited in the borough. Consistent with Policy EM4.1 'Providing New Employment', appropriate intensification to make more effective use of the land will be supported in this part of the Strategic Development Area. However, the compatibility of new uses will need to be carefully considered, particularly where residential uses are proposed.
2.15 The concrete batching plant and rail aggregates depot is safeguarded by the Hertfordshire Minerals Local Plan. Its relocation will only be supported where a suitable alternative location has been identified that meets the operational requirements and environmental criteria.
2.16 Re-provision of car parking, including access, will need to be considered at a strategic level across the area to avoid fragmentation and inefficient use of land. Large areas of scattered car parking throughout the Strategic Development Area should be avoided. Proposals for car parking that come forward independently of a car-parking strategy for the area, or a future masterplan, will not be supported where they could compromise the road network or infrastructure for alternative forms of active travel, such as cycling and walking.
2.17 The area is presently severed by the railway lines and improved access is needed to mitigate the impact of this. The delivery of a new pedestrian and cycle bridge will connect Watford Junction station to the land east of the Abbey Line. This bridge will need to be accessible for commuters and local people to ensure that development is integrated into the existing built-up area. The location of the bridge landing points will be identified as part of discussions with landowners. The legal agreement for this will need to be in place before redevelopment can progress. A route for a second bridge that connects Penn Road with Watford Junction is to be protected so that new development does not compromise potential access to the area in the future.
2.18 New development in the Watford Junction area is anticipated to include at least 2,718 new homes and some additional windfall development. This will generate additional need for school places and increase demands placed on existing health facilities.
2.19 A primary school has been identified as part of the scheme located in the north of the Strategic Development Area. Additional education facilities east of Watford Junction Station will be required. However, much of that area is sub-optimal given the constraints of the site including proximity to railway lines and the concrete batching plant and rail aggregates depot. A second primary school will be required east of the station and applicants are encouraged to work collaboratively to identify where it can be provided that provides good amenity for young children. If an alternative location for a new primary school is identified outside of the Strategic Development Area and will meet the needs of new residents this will be supported.
2.20 The Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group has indicated that a new health facility, with a floorspace area of approximately 1,300sqm, is required in the Watford Gateway Strategic Development Area. Applicants should work collaboratively with other landowners and the Clinical Commissioning Group to identify how this facility can be delivered. Where provision is made on site, this will be considered in the context of other developer contributions. As part of the redevelopment of the area, a childcare facility should be re-provided within the Strategic Development Area. The location of this facility, and how it will be delivered, will need to be agreed with the Local Planning Authority prior to redevelopment of the existing premises.
2.21 The Tall Buildings Study (2021) suggested that a suitable prevailing base building height in the Watford Junction and Clarendon Road area would be eight to ten storeys tall. Development will be required to comply with Policy QD6.5 'Building Height' where proposals are above this base height on a street frontage, or more than ten storeys to the rear. Other Local Plan policies and the relationship with existing low lying areas will also be considered in determining acceptable building heights.
2.22 Located adjacent to the east and west of the Strategic Development Area are the Estcourt and Nascot Conservation Areas. Developments will need to be considered with regard to how they may impact on these designations and their sensitivities, particularly where proposals are designed to exceed the base building height.
Strategic Policy CDA2.1: Watford Gateway Strategic Development Area
The Strategic Development Area will see co-ordinated change around Watford Junction railway station / bus station and the Clarendon Road area, creating a mixed use urban quarter of high quality design and place making, with excellent connectivity to support a mix of housing, employment and other subsidiary land uses and community orientated facilities. To achieve this, applicants will be required to demonstrate how proposals will make provision for and contribute towards the following criteria:
- The regeneration of land north of Watford Junction railway station and how they will help transform the area into new, high density development providing homes, jobs and other uses;
- In locations where new development is of a scale and is notably different in character to adjacent existing residential uses, proposals will need to be designed so that they demonstrate a transition of taller urban form to lower lying character and mitigate any significant impact on neighbouring residential or community amenity;
- A new primary school site to meet the demands generated by the development;
- Provision of a circa 1,300sqm of healthcare floorspace;
- A high quality transport interchange hub located at Watford Junction connecting rail, bus, taxi, cycle and pedestrian facilities;
- New walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure will be required to contribute towards the Local Transport Plan and supporting strategies;
- On land east of the railway line, a pedestrian and cycle bridge for commuters and residents across the Abbey Line must be agreed before planning permission is granted;
- A route for a pedestrian and cycle bridge aligned with Penn Road to Watford Junction must be safeguarded;
- The land east of the West Coast Mainline will support a mix of uses including replacement car parking, new homes and employment uses;
- Existing employment floorspace will be protected, proposals for redevelopment of employment premises will be supported where there is no net loss of employment floorspace and the proposed use will not undermine existing uses through the Agent of Change Principle. As part of the commercial floorspace a replacement childcare facility should be provided;
- Car parking at Watford Junction should be part of a strategic approach, including provision of a multi-storey car park east of the Abbey Line. Applicants will be required to demonstrate this has been achieved as part of any proposal;
- New development will not compromise vehicle access from Colonial Way and Clive Way into the site and access to the station;
- The concrete batching plant and rail aggregates depot will be safeguarded as significant mineral infrastructure.
Town Centre Strategic Development Area
2.23 The Town Centre Strategic Development Area encompasses 52 hectares of land at the heart of Watford (Figure 2.3). The area is a sub-regional destination for town centre uses including retail and leisure, and supports a significant number of jobs. Its historical importance is reflected in the high number of heritage assets present. This area of high sustainability is home to a growing residential community
2.24 The Strategic Development Area extends from Watford High Street overground station in the south to West Herts College in the north. It has good access to rail and bus links and strong connections to the other Strategic Development Areas. The town centre does however suffer from an 'island effect' created by the severance caused by the surrounding ring road.
A thriving Town Centre
2.25 The Town Centre has existing residential areas alongside a wide range of facilities with large amounts of comparison retail alongside a variety of leisure, cultural and entertainment facilities. The evening economy is strong and draws visitors from a wide area to the restaurants, bars and in particular the Watford Colosseum and Watford Palace Theatre.
2.26 To continue to thrive, Watford Town Centre will need to evolve and diversify in response to current and future retail and social trends, be adaptable to changes in technology, consumer behaviours and the shift from 9am-5pm towards longer, flexible, active hours. This need for adaptation and diversification, together with access to good public transport, makes the Town Centre also appropriate for residential-led or mixed-use high density development.
2.27 The Strategic Development Area contains three distinct character areas: the North High Street from the Exchange Road flyover north to Rickmansworth Road; the central part of the High Street from the flyover, south to King Street; and the south part of the High Street, which extends south of King Street to the Colne Valley Strategic Development Area.
Development in the Town Centre
2.28 The Town Centre provides opportunities for residential development as part of a wider mix of uses. This additional footfall will contribute towards the vitality in the Town Centre through the day and into the evening, particularly to support convenience and retail leisure uses. More people living in the area also encourages a sense of ownership.
2.29 Achieving an appropriate mix of residential types, sizes and tenures, including family-sized units, across the area, will be of great importance to meet Watford's housing need, as will providing essential services to ensure the area is an attractive place to live. The growth in the number of people living in the area will mean a need for additional community facilities to support the new residents of the town as well as providing community uses for the whole borough.
2.30 The importance of the retail offer in the Town Centre is reflected in the South West Hertfordshire Retail and Leisure Study (2018). Retaining active and positive ground floor shop frontages will be the key to maintaining this position. Further discussion is provided in Chapter 5 'A Vibrant Town' and Chapter 6 'An Attractive Town'.
2.31 New development, particularly new homes, will need to be sensitive to potential environmental issues, noise and light pollution that occur with some town centre uses. Applicants will need to design building servicing and waste management facilities into schemes to avoid adverse impacts on amenity and the public realm.
2.32 It is important that development proposals consider how they are integrated with other projects in the Town Centre and nearby. In this context, proposals will be expected to contribute towards the vision for Watford to 2036, which has been informed by Watford's Cultural Strategy and reinforces the importance of the town centre as a destination with an improved visitor experience.
North High Street area
2.33 This area from the Exchange Road flyover to Rickmansworth Road is currently the focal point for the evening economy in Watford. The north part of the High Street itself is a wide boulevard with listed buildings at the north end but much of the area's character has been compromised by low-quality development and public realm. The area lies outside of the Core Shopping Area, and a mix of uses that provides positive and active frontages, quality public realm and contributes towards the vibrancy of the town centre will be supported. Proposals to make better use of the public space along the High Street in the area north of Albert Road South will be supported, where they meet the requirements of licensing and do not create conflict with other uses in the vicinity.
2.34 At the north end of the High Street is the area known as The Parade, where several listed buildings are located. Proposals will need to be designed to minimise impact on the listed buildings and use heights that are sympathetic to the surrounding character.
2.35 The Civic Core Conservation Area encompasses several listed buildings, including the Town Hall and Watford library. A number of cultural facilities are also nearby including the Colosseum, leisure centre and West Herts College. Development in this area will be guided by the North Hub Masterplan, which seeks to deliver a variety of facilities reflecting the cultural and heritage value of the area. Proposals will need to consider heritage-related Supplementary Planning Documents. They must also improve the function and setting of the buildings, reduce the dominance of the road system around the Avenue Car Park, and make more efficient use of land. A short distance to the west is Cassiobury Park, the largest park in the borough. Proposals for the wider area should seek to improve connectivity to this area given the limited recreation space available in the Town Centre.
2.36 East and west of the north part of the High Street are areas that have a low quality urban grain that does not relate well to the main retail area. Proposals in these areas should consider the potential for high-density development that will reinstate a street pattern that improves connectivity through a high-quality public realm, and uses building design to create a balanced approach to openness, enclosure and natural surveillance.
2.37 Allocations around Albert Road South provide an opportunity for comprehensive redevelopment of this area to create a distinct identity with improved public realm. Proposals in this area will be supported to provide pedestrian and cycle connections across Beechen Grove.
Central High Street area
2.38 The central High Street area lies within the core shopping area and is a focus for retail and leisure uses, to encourage a variety of activities for all ages and a positive visitor experience. Development proposals should reinforce these uses and make a positive contribution towards the town centre as a destination.
2.39 The east side of the High Street is dominated by the indoor shopping centre, formerly intuWatford, where the extension into Charter Place, which opened in 2018, has also created a significant leisure draw. Flexibility for retail and leisure uses will be required to help ensure that the complex continues to make a positive contribution towards the town centre, while complementing the more traditional High Street retail offer.
2.40 Towards the south end of the area is the St Mary's Conservation Area, which includes St Mary's Church, the oldest building in Watford, and several other listed buildings. Proposals in this area will need to be designed to reflect the sensitivity of the historic environment and the setting of the listed buildings.
2.41 Located at the north end of this area is Watford Market. The market has two elements, with a covered 'box park' facility of retail and eateries and outdoor stalls on the open High Street. There are aspirations to improve the market and make it a more attractive destination for local people. Proposals to relocate the market will be supported where they align with the ambition to improve the quality of the town centre as a vibrant retail destination and visitor experience.
2.42 Adjacent to the High Street are the distinctive street areas of Market Street (to the west) and Queens Road (to the east). These are local retail areas that complement the High Street offer and have pedestrian and cycle links to other parts of Watford. Both reflect the residential character around them, being characterised by low-level built form and shops operated as private enterprises, rather than national operators. Development in these areas should enhance the retail offer and community-orientated facilities. Projects that will improve the public realm and the pedestrian experience through urban greening and street works will be supported. The Council encourages engagement with local stakeholders in a coordinated approach to enhancing Market Street and Queens Road.
2.43 The Local Plan encourages increasing accessibility for people using public transport, walking and cycling, however, private vehicles will still be the choice for some. Should the redevelopment of large-scale parking facilities be considered in the future, proposals must be supported with evidence setting out the potential impacts and benefits for the town centre as a thriving retail destination and a place people want to visit. This will need to consider good access to retail, recreational and leisure facilities and the relationship to other strategies associated with walking, cycling, taxis and public transport.
South High Street area
2.44 The south High Street area is more reflective of a traditional High Street, characterised by smaller independent units and specialised retail that create a continuous active frontage. The existing built form consists of buildings with a small footprint and is generally two storeys in height.
2.45 Much of the south part of the High Street lies within the High Street / King Street Conservation Area and includes several listed buildings. Proposals will need to consider their potential impact on these heritage assets, and be designed using high-quality and innovative approaches to improve the built environment and contribute towards the distinctiveness of Watford.
2.46 At the base of the south High Street area is the junction with Beechen Grove and Exchange Road, creating severance between the Town Centre and Lower High Street and is a poor-quality and vehicle-dominated environment. Highways improvements to the junction will be supported, particularly where they prioritise walking and cycling. This area acts as a gateway to the Town Centre from the Watford High Street Overground Station and opportunities to improve local transport with connections to a future Mass Rapid Transport System will be supported. Where necessary the Council may use land assembly powers to secure proposals that are of high quality.
2.47 The Local Plan reflects objectives set out in the Local Transport Plan and will be further informed by the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan and Sustainable Transport Strategy. One of the overarching objectives of the Local Plan is to improve the environment for people to move through and make it an attractive place to live, work and visit.
2.48 The Town Centre is bound by the ring road, creating significant severance for people not using private vehicles to get around. Of particular importance are improvements to key junctions that should prioritise non-vehicle users, including the junctions at the High Street / Rickmansworth Road, Albert Road South / Beechen Grove, Clarendon Road / Beechen Grove, south part of the High Street / Beechen Grove and Market Street / Exchange Road.
2.49 New development in the Town Centre Strategic Development Area is anticipated to include at least 546 new homes. This will generate additional need for school places and increase demands placed on existing health facilities.
2.50 Applicants are encouraged to work collaboratively to identify where a new primary school can be provided that provides good amenity for young children. If an alternative location for a new primary school is identified outside of the Strategic Development Area and will meet the needs of new residents this will be supported.
2.51 Applicants will need to demonstrate collaborative working with other landowners and the Clinical Commissioning Group to identify how additional health facilities can be delivered. Where provision is made on site, this will be considered in the context of other developer contributions.
2.52 Developments within the Town Centre will need to consider how they relate to their surroundings, including heritage assets, and the impact they may have on the character and function of the area. Schemes will need to comply with policies set out in Chapter 6 'An Attractive Town' and consider how they relate to the existing built form. Informed by the Tall Buildings Study the future base height in the Town Centre is considered to be five storeys. Proposed buildings taller than this will need to satisfy the requirements set out in Policy QD6.5 'Building Height'.
Strategic Policy CDA2.2: Town Centre Strategic Development Area
Proposals in the Town Centre Strategic Development Area will be supported where good design contributes positively towards creating a vibrant town centre, focused on people, healthy lifestyles and quality of life. To achieve this, applicants will be required to demonstrate how proposals will make provision for, and contribute positively towards, the following criteria:
- New development will make effective use of land to intensify town centre uses and increase the amount of people living in the Town Centre, intensifying footfall and adding vitality to the town throughout the day and evening;
- New uses should make a positive addition to the vitality and functionality of the Town Centre. Residential uses should be sensitively designed and located to avoid negatively impacting on existing town centre uses. Leisure uses that contribute towards the vibrancy and functionality of the Town Centre will be supported;
- Development along the High Street, Market Street and the north part of the High Street should retain and enhance active frontages on the ground floor. Uses, such as flexible workspace, where activity occurs throughout the day, will be supported in these areas;
- Public realm should be improved to create distinct places throughout the Town Centre to increase dwell time. Proposals should support the delivery of green infrastructure, and in particular, tree planting, to enhance the visitor experience;
- Proposals should contribute to clear and coordinated wayfinding across the Town Centre and permeability into surrounding areas, including the rail and bus stations, Clarendon Road office hub, the football stadium and hospital. Priority will be for pedestrians and cyclists;
- Opportunities should be taken to reduce the vehicle dominance of the ring road, proposals that provide active frontages to the ring road will be supported, transforming the environment into a street that is a positive experience to use for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as vehicle users, will be a priority;
- Linkages to open spaces, particularly Cassiobury Park and the proposed Colne Valley Linear Park, should be improved, contributing to the creation of a well-connected, accessible and integrated network of open spaces;
- Heritage assets, in particular St Mary's Church and the surrounding conservation areas, are key to the character of the Strategic Development Area and proposals should be sensitive to these heritage assets, enhancing their character and setting;
- Proposals should demonstrate the provision of innovative waste management and recycling storage and collection systems, to reduce the need for service vehicles along the High Street.
Colne Valley Strategic Development Area
Figure 2.4: Colne Valley Strategic Development Area
2.53 The Colne Valley Strategic Development Area encompasses 83 hectares in the southern part of the Core Development Area with the defining feature being the River Colne. It includes destinations such as Vicarage Road Football Stadium; Watford General Hospital; Trade City employment area and a distribution of retail parks that perform an out-of-town shopping role in the borough and Bushey and Watford High Street railway stations (Figure 2.4).
2.54 The overarching vision for the Strategic Development Area is to transform it from a car-dominated environment with large retail and commercial sheds, into a new mixed use urban quarter with a quality public realm and an enhanced and accessible river environment for all to enjoy. The Strategic Development Area comprises three areas of different character and objectives; Lower High Street, River Colne and Watford Riverwell.
2.55 Located in an area of high sustainability, new development provides opportunities for people to have excellent access to public transport, services and facilities including the town centre. New development is envisaged to transform this part of the town and create a built and natural environment that is increasingly focussed on people and high quality place making. New development should be designed to reinstate an urban grain that creates a legible network of streets and public spaces and a quality public realm. This should improve connectivity for all users and more widely makes a contribution towards creating a high quality neighbourhood where people want to live.
2.56 Proposals should maximise the opportunities and be designed to make effective use of land. They should ensure design measures are implemented to mitigate any adverse impact of the scheme on existing residential areas. Within the Strategic Development Area, proposals should not increase the amount of retail floorspace on site unless small-scale provision is needed to support the local community. Existing retail floorspace can be re-provided, where appropriate, however a reduction of retail provision will be supported to contribute towards the objective of transforming this area into a residential and mixed-use quarter.
2.57 Watford Museum (Grade II listed building), the Pump House Theatre and Frogmore House are important heritage assets located along the Lower High Street. Where there is a potential adverse impact on a heritage asset a Heritage Impact Assessment may be required. Design measures to minimise impacts on these assets should be set out as part of any proposals.
2.58 The area is dominated by a network of busy roads that include the Lower High Street, Dalton Way and Waterfields Way (which links to the M1). The high volumes of traffic have resulted in the designation of an Air Quality Management Area Bushey Arches and another at Pinner Road just outside the Strategic Development Area boundary. The road network has also resulted in fragmented pedestrian and cycle provision and significant severance between people and local destinations. Informed by the Local Transport Plan and the forthcoming Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, proposals will contribute towards reducing the influence of the motorised vehicle in this area and prioritising active travel and public transport. Projects such as junction improvements and giving priority to non-private-vehicular traffic along the Lower High Street will be supported.
2.59 Major development proposals should use a masterplan led approach that demonstrates how they have maximised local opportunities for development of appropriate densities, to improve the public realm and increase access to services and facilities.
River Colne area
2.60 Development in this area will primarily be residential. Located at the lowest point of the valley between the town centre and Bushey Arches, proposals will need to be designed to reflect their location near the River Colne while intensifying existing land uses given the close proximity to Bushey Station.
2.61 New development fronting the river should be designed to minimise disturbance to semi-natural areas. Proposals should do this by including measures that will enhance the setting of the river, the avian, riparian and aquatic habitats it supports and improve pedestrian and cycle routes. To do this, proposals should by consider the location of other green spaces and community facilities in the wider area that the community will use.
2.62 The area has been subject to a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment and this should be used to inform how proposals are designed in order to mitigate flood risk. Sites affected may require a site specific flood risk assessment and this should consider other flood risk mitigation measures that may be forthcoming in the Core Development Area. Applicants are encouraged to engage with the Environment Agency as an early part of scheme preparation. Further discussion is set out in the 'Flood risk and ground water management' section of Chapter 9 'Natural Environment'. On sites where the River Colne has been culverted, measures need to be taken to re-naturalise the waterway.
2.63 The impacts of new development will need to be managed given the sensitivities of the environment, particularly those located in Flood Zones 2 and 3 or with potential to affect biodiversity. Building design measures that reduce noise and light spill should be integrated into all development proposals. Building heights in this area will need to be appropriate and reflect the context and constraints of this part of the Strategic Development Area.
2.64 The River Colne is an important asset in the area as part of the network of green and blue infrastructure, and a connection from the Ebury Way and Oxhey Park to Waterfields Recreation Ground and further north along the valley. The area lies to the north of the Colne River Regional Park and shares many of the same characteristics as part of the green and blue infrastructure network. The Colne Valley provides an opportunity to improve the natural environment and increase the recreational value for local people.
2.65 A key objective of the Strategic Development Area, informed by the Watford Green Infrastructure Strategy (2011), is to create a linear park along the river basin. Proposals along the River Colne should be designed to help create this park and make provision for a publically accessible shared use path along the site. This will contribute towards open space requirements set out in Policy NE9.7 'Providing New Open Space'. As part of the linear park, proposals should be designed to facilitate continuous access to adjacent greenspaces, play areas, allotments and playing fields, this may require measures to address road crossings in the vicinity.
Watford Riverwell, Vicarage Road Football Stadium and Watford General Hospital area
2.66 The western part of the Strategic Development Area incorporates Watford Riverwell, an area of residential development and supporting community facilities; the Vicarage Road Football Stadium and Watford General Hospital, an important sub-regional health facility. The area has an overarching residential character and development schemes will need to be designed to reflect and integrate with this character.
2.67 The stadium and hospital are next to each other and important local landmarks in the Vicarage area. Improvements to the hospital will be supported, and planning consent has been granted for a new multi-level car park. Any future development proposals in this area should positively contribute towards the existing residential character and enhance community facilities.
2.68 Part of the site includes the former Metropolitan Line Extension, a route safeguarded by Policy ST11.2 'Protecting and Enhancing Future Public Transport routes and Watford Junction Station Area as a Transport Hub'. This route will form part of a Mass Rapid Transport system linking Watford High Street and Ascot Road to the west (on the boundary with Three Rivers District). Development proposals adjacent to the safeguarded route should be designed to enable pedestrian and cycle connections into the route and to any future infrastructure. More generally, proposals are expected to enhance the local walking and cycle network and enable good access to public transport along Vicarage Road and Thomas Sawyer Way.
2.69 New development in the Colne Valley Strategic Development Area, is anticipated to include 4,361 new homes. Of these, 1,383 form part of the Watford Riverwell scheme which already has planning permission. These will generate additional need for school places and increase demands placed on existing health facilities.
2.70 The Watford Riverwell scheme will provide one new primary school with one other provided within the Colne Valley SDA and there is some projected capacity at existing schools in the wider area. Proposals will be required to make provision for primary school facilities. For sites larger than 1,000 dwellings, this will be required on site. For sites that are located in close proximity to each other and will have a cumulative impact that will generate demand for a new school, applicants are encouraged to work collaboratively with other landowners and the education authority to best meet this need. There is a need to identify where a new primary school can be provided that provides good amenity for young children. If an alternative location for a new primary school is identified outside of the Strategic Development Area and will meet the needs of new residents this will be supported.
2.71 Applicants should work collaboratively with other landowners and the Clinical Commissioning Group to identify how additional health facilities can be delivered. Where provision is made on site, this will be considered in the context of other developer contributions.
2.72 Informed by the Tall Buildings Study, the base future building height in the area is five storeys. New development should be designed to reflect this character and where proposals exceed this height, they will need to comply with the requirements set out in Policy QD6.5 'Building Height'. To make a positive contribution to the Watford Skyline, proposals should use appropriate densities, site layouts, building heights and reflect the topography which is lowest around the River Colne and highest near the town centre. Important views across the borough, such as from the rail viaduct and Oxhey Park, should not be compromised.
Strategic Policy CDA2.3: Colne Valley Strategic Development Area
The Colne Valley Strategic Development Area is designated to facilitate transformative and co-ordinated change around the River Colne and Lower High Street area, producing a sustainable and mixed-use urban quarter of high quality design and place making, excellent connectivity and a diverse range of uses.
Development will be supported where it contributes towards the objectives for the area and is consistent with other policies in the Local Plan. Applicants will be required to set out how their proposals contribute positively towards the following:
- The redevelopment of retail and commercial land will be intensified with mixed used development. Where retail use is re-provided, this should not exceed the existing net retail floorspace on site;
- In locations adjacent to existing residential areas, new development should be designed to minimise the potential impact on these areas by providing a transition in built form between existing homes and higher-density development;
- Proposals located in areas of flood risk will need to consider the cumulative impact of development and ensure that mitigation measures do not conflict with other measures that may have been agreed on other sites in the Core Development Area;
- New development will contribute towards the creation of, and connections to a linear park along the River Colne, from Water Lane to Oxhey Park, enabling public access for pedestrians and cyclists and the enhancement of wildlife habitats;
- Proposals adjacent to the River Colne are to be designed to enhance its setting, facilitate public access, and to include measures to minimise the impact of development on the river-based habitats including the re-naturalisation of the River Colne between Water Lane and Waterfields Way;
- New primary school sites to meet the demands generated by the development;
- A new pedestrian and cycle crossing or underpass at Waterfields Way should be provided as part of the linear park along the River Colne;
- The Lower High Street should be prioritised for improved public transport and the creation of a shared surface route;
- Priority systems at junctions and crossings to improve access and permeability in the wider area for public transport, pedestrians and cyclists.