A Victorian villa in central Watford, which was the former registry office at 36 Clarendon Road, has been saved from demolition and rebirth as an office and flats development. The decision came after residents and politicians in the area complained the new development would overshadow nearby homes and result in the loss of part of the town’s architectural heritage creating an edifice not in keeping with the surrounding area.
Residents & politicians declared that adjacent homes would be eclipsed by the new development which would have provided 7 studio flats, 14 one-bed and 2 15 two-bed flats plus office space. There would also have been 19 parking spaces for the office and 24 space for the flats. The front of the building was earmarked for 5 story office space while the flats at the rear would reach as high as seven storeys.
Prior to this the building had also been earmarked as one of two potential sites for a new Church of England free school, planned for the area but councillors were advised that they should set aside the school issue as it was not a proper planning consideration. This coming at a time when the need for school places in the area has never been higher, a situation highlighted by the deputy PM Nick Clegg when he visited the town last year.
Although it appears the right decision has been made, it remains to be seen what the building will now be used for. In an era when we are struggling nationally from a housing shortage, planning for more residential dwellings should be encouraged but this decision balances this need with the importance that we attach to the rich historical legacy that we enjoy in the town. Hopefully the building will be utilised for the good of the community.
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