I think most of us would agree that the town centre, especially the upper part is looking very tacky and needs a complete overhaul. What once was an attractive people-friendly environment seems to have suffered long term decline. It looks scruffy and at times even a bit frightening. So when news came through this week of exciting ideas and discussions about how that whole area could be revamped I was keen to have a look at them.
Apparently a special study has been carried out by Aecom, a design and planning practice and they have presented a proposal to "stimulate discussion" about the future look and feel of the town centre. Some of the ideas include
· relocating the museum in a new iconic building, extended to include a visual arts centre next to the Library
· community practise and performance facilities
· a town centre cinema
· improving public realms areas – including greening landscapes, tree planting, new public gardens and better street furniture
· a pavilion and café type building, next to a water jet event space and retained pond, that is improved and resized to allow flexible space for visitors, and includes a natural reed filtration system to support a range of plant and wildlife, including ducks and fish
· a new space for sitting, relaxing and another for specialist markets
· improved pedestrian facilities and passenger transport links
Elected Mayor of Watford Dorothy Thornhill welcomed the study. She said: “Residents have said they want the town to be ‘more family friendly’, so I asked Watford Borough Council to work up options to form a plan that will help improve the attractiveness of the ‘top of the town centre’. Earlier consultation feedback from local people reinforced the importance of rejuvenating the town centre and the need for a wider range of facilities and activities to appeal to a broader mix of residents.
“The aspiration is to create a vibrant and distinctive area at the top of Watford’s town centre, which will act as a stimulating focal point for culture and heritage within the borough. The feedback has been to blend the best that we currently have in the top of the town, like the Palace Theatre, with new facilities and open spaces designed to attract people to the town centre.
Watford residents, businesses and visitors are going to be consulted and asked for their views. If you want a sneak preview of the visuals drawn up to stimulate discussion drop me an e-mail and I'll forward it to you.