A new look for the top of town – FAQs

Improvement works to The Parade are well underway, which will bring an exciting and fresh new look to the whole top part of the town centre.

The redesign of the area from Clarendon  Road up to Rickmansworth will reduce clutter and create an open, family friendly space for all to enjoy.

How can I find out more about the improvements?

You can visit the project website: www.whatifwatford.wordpress.com which has a number of plans and mock-up images.

You could also sign up for our Watford Borough Councils monthly ebulletin, which includes updates on all the projects happening around the town. Click here to sign up: http://www.watford.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/council-and-democracy/council-news/email-newsletter/

How long will the works take?

The works started on site in April 2013 and will last for approximately 12 months. The works will be carried out in stages to reduce disruption as much as possible.

Please see attached pdf document (1 page) for the phasing of the works. Watford Parade Scheme Phasing Diagram

Who is going to be doing the work?

Aggregate Industries Construction has been appointed to carry out the work. Their Public Liaison Officer, Philip Priest, is based in the site office at 137A The Parade, and welcomes any questions or concerns you may have. It is the blue door next to the nail salon. Please note the offices are on the second floor of the building. You can also call him on tel: 07927 756620.

Is it safe to visit the town centre during the works?

Yes. Aggregate Industries are extremely proud of their safety record. All the works are securely fenced off, and walkways are clearly marked. During the improvement works, cyclists are being asked to get off their bikes when travelling through sections of the Parade. Signs have been put up by our contractor, where the parade has been temporarily narrowed, and we would urge cyclists to pay attention to them.

The Parade is being transformed into a car-free, shared use space for cyclists and pedestrians. It’s important that all visitors using the space do so considerately. We all have a responsibility for the safety of others we are sharing space with, especially in a busy town centre.

Are all the shops still open during the works?

Absolutely. All the businesses along The Parade are open and trading – it’s very much ‘business as usual’.

We have been promoting this message throughout the projects – as well as utilising the 2m high hoardings surround the work compound; we do this through press releases/ updates to our social media channels/ ebulletins to residents and updates to the www.whatifwatford.wordpress.com website.

Regular ebulletins are also sent to the businesses informing them of progress. Letter drops are carried out to all affected businesses each time the works move into a new area.

What is happening to the existing trees?

As many existing trees as possible are being retained as part of the new scheme but some have had to be removed. 49 new trees are being planted, and lit, as part of the new design, to create a beautiful avenue effect along The Parade.

What steps have been taken to protect existing wildlife in the area?

The works to the pond will be carried out well after the end of the bird nesting season and outside the fish spawning season. The ducks will naturally migrate away once the pond has been emptied, and experts have advised that they will return naturally upon completion as Watford pond offers a good and safe environment.

These works have been planned having taken advice from expert ecologists.  The birds will naturally relocate to nearby water bodies; and the fish will be carefully removed and stored off-site in holding tanks until the new renovated pond is complete in the spring when they will be re-released .

What improvements are being made to the pond?

The pond has been part of Watford’s town centre for at least 100 years. It began as a washing point for livestock and horses before they were taken down to the market. Over time the pond changed, becoming an ornamental water body with fountains. In 1999 a weir was added to its end and ducks, fish and other bird life began breeding among the pond planting.

When asked, the key things that people noted about the pond were:

  • that the water is green and the water quality needs to be improved
  • the wildlife habitats need to  be retained
  • the size and shape of the pond  creates a barrier between the northern and southern sides of The Parade.

In light of this feedback, the pond will be enhanced with a new filter system and planting to improve the water quality and wildlife habitat. New fountains will be installed and a raised edge created to stop debris being blown into the water.

Care has been taken to respect the historic nature of the pond and retain as much of the original water body as possible. Both ends of the pond will have stepped seating and decked areas, and a bridge will create a link from one side of the Parade to the other.

In support of local businesses, we will also create suitable areas for outdoor dining adjacent to the pond on the north side where the majority of the sunshine is.

How long will the pond works take? Will these works affect my business?

These works will start in October 2013 and be completed by March 2014.  Earlier on in the works – October time – there will be a natural and probably unavoidable smell for 2-3 days when the silt is dredged and removed from the pond. This silt will however be taken off site as quickly as possible to minimise the impact on businesses and the contractors will liaise with them well ahead of the works.

How is this being paid for?

The improvements works are being funding from the council’s ‘capital’ budget. This is money – not taken from council tax payments – that legally can only be spent on improving assets. Capital money cannot be spent on ‘day to day’ services or used to cut council tax. Therefore, the improvements will not mean that our council tax increases.

Will I still be able to park if I am disabled?

Yes. There are new disabled parking bays within Gade Car Park – and the existing disabled parking bays on Gaumont Approach and outside the Gade Car Park have been improved. In total, there are 16 parking bays. This is in addition to the disabled parking bays available in the other seven car parks in the town centre.

What access is there for vehicles along The Parade?

From 17 June 2013, The Parade became car-free. This will improve visibility and circulation along the street, and increase access and space for licensed outdoor dining. We hope creating a shared use space will bring huge benefits to visitors, pedestrians, cyclists, those with disabilities and our town centre businesses.

We did lots of public consultation last year, and removing the road, making it car-free and de-cluttering the area were among the most popular proposals with residents who took part in the consultation on The Parade.

Access will be limited to emergency and maintenance vehicles with permits only.  A formal consultation was carried out on the new Traffic Regulation Orders in March 2013 and no objections were made.

Access permits will be made available for those requiring large vehicle service access and those organising approved events when the project is completed in March 2014.  Multi-drop and small vehicles deliveries should use the new loading bay in Gaumount Approach.

How will the works affect my business?

We are repaving The Parade, and this may temporarily affect your access.  Any pavement licences will also be affected. The contractor will discuss with you the best way to carry out works to minimise any disruption.

Aggregate Industries Public Liaison Officer, Philip Priest, meets with shop owners regularly, and the contractor will make reasonable adjustments to their programme of works as a result of these friendly discussions.

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