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27 Responses to “FEEDBACK”

  1. 1 Andy Watson December 15, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Nice website

    • 2 Cant Cope January 13, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      ….and apart from the website, what else is included in the £4.3million?

  2. 3 Peter Jeffree January 10, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    The top end of town is a large space, which manages to feel rather purposeless and not as large as it is due to the fragmented arrangement of hard and soft landscaping, planting, the pond and the underpass.
    Last year’s ‘Imagine Watford’ arts festival demonstrated how the area could be creatively used but it did also demonstrate that much more open unobstructed areas would be a great benefit.
    Key elements required to my mind are: reducing the space taken up by the pond to allow larger areas of multi use hard surfacing, reducing the space required for the underpass and opening it up visually (see later), rationalising the planting and street furniture and ideally making some of these ‘architectural’ elements moveable to allow different types of activity to take place. Introducing new street furniture and signage to establish a ‘brand for the area’
    Not many years ago the ‘top end of town’ used to be the place for smart retail, but it has since been taken over largely by bars, restaurants and clubs plus estate agents etc. To make it an attractive destination once more it needs a greater variety of use than at present, including much more interesting retail and one obvious way of encouraging his might be to use the space as the default location for open air specialist markets which are a very popular feature of the town. As well as arts events of course.
    The underpass has been visually improved recently, but it remains a rather mean and unattractive connection between the High Street and the developing Civic and Cultural quarter north of Ricky Road. We need a radical re-think of the relationship between the main road and the pedestrian realm to reduce the dominance of vehicular traffic over pedestrians. Widening the underpass might be one way, but obviously very expensive. A radical alternative could be to look into a generous at-grade connection re-establishing the historic north-south street and extend the public realm right across the road to connect to the Town Hall, the refurbished Colosseum and the new College. Whilst this might initially be dismissed as impractical, I would draw comparison with the radical changes made to Trafalgar Square where the north side has been pedestrianised, and also to the new four way crossing at Oxford Circus which gives over the whole space to the public between traffic light phases. A visit to some nearby European towns e.g. Malmo and Copenhagen quickly demonstrates that by shifting the balance of power away from cars and in favour of pedestrians and cyclists, much more enjoyable and humane town centres can be created.
    Good luck with the project, I look forward to seeing it develop with great interest.

  3. 4 Helen January 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I really like the open space at the top end of the town especially the pond. This should be kept but made more of a feature. Possible half as is and maybe a shallower part with water feature fountains for kiddies to walk, paddle through in the warmer months. Some nice lighting to make it a feature at night so this might detract from revellers using it as a bin/toilet. I like the grass area outside the pizza shop/post office area and think there should be more grass the other side of the subway opposite the Town Hall with maybe a picnicy sort of area with a slighter smaller bandstand. I know they have bands playing each Saturday and if there was a grassy area to chill out it may attract more people. A wider variety of shops at this end would be good. Maybe a boutique, antiques, little quirky shops that aren’t seen in the Harlequin may get more people to venutre up this end of town.

  4. 5 Cant Cope January 13, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    BDP should read this excellent response slowly and carefully. They should discuss every aspect and create their own response..

  5. 6 Andy Harris January 22, 2012 at 7:59 am

    I am really pleased that a plan to re-develop the top end of town is planned. To my mind the main issue is the number of bars and clubs, which make the area a no-go zone for much of the population of Watford, this is not good for the town or its general image. I am 35 and struggle to find anywhere nice to go for a drink or to eat (Bodega aside), if I want to drink shots all night, go to a strip bar or a club then Watford is the place to go, this really needs to change to help the towns image. In my opinion the pond also needs to be removed as it looks like it dates back to the 1970’s and adds little value. Watford has a lot to offer and the development of this space and Charter Place will amke a big difference to the towns wider image and for those of us who live here.

  6. 7 Angie&Elsie January 24, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Cassiobury Park is a huge green area close by with nature reserves, so I think we can safely get rid of the pond, without any worry about where the wildlife will go. It isn’t suitable to have a pond when, 3-5 nights a week, its used as a toilet and rubbish bin.

    I am a new mum and don’t think its particularly family friendly – the ducks are lovely, but they are outnumbered by feral pigeons. Get rid of the pond, take the ducks to the park and bring in a bird of prey once a month to eat the pigeons.

    If there was any way of encouraging the landlords of properties at this end of town to reduce their rents, to enable small businesses to open up, that would be great. I know the council tried to make use of some of the empty shops for pop-up art galleries but the landlords refused – perhaps it could be tried again?

    Coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, bars catering for an older audience – these kinds of uses would support and complement the newly opened Colosseum.

    The bit of land next to the library could be transformed into an exhibition space (like the temporary galleries outside the Natural History Museum) -perhaps work with the college, the library, the Museum and art community to help facilitate this. The bandstand should go back to Cassiobury Park where it belongs and where it will thrive – the summer bandstands concerts were fab but very under-attended, and will do better when visitors can picnic and sit on the grass.

    Currently this area is a bit dark and dingy, full of drunks and naughty people. Lighting the trees and providing seating – and similar lighting and a range of seating options to replace the pond would draw these two areas together (linked by the subway) and make them feel safer and more welcoming. Leave enough open space for performance.

    Fairy lights and comfortable seating won’t date or get vandalised or offend anyone.

  7. 8 Mr Furry Hamster January 25, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    My running club runs through the parade twice a month during the winter period on a Wednesday between 7.30pm and 8pm. Even at this early hour we are subjected to quite a lot of verbal abuse from the alcohol fuelled revellers. It is a very intimidating atmosphere. We tend to follow the cycle route as there is a massive array of bollards, pub signs, chairs tables, bin, benches and trees in the way all the way down the Parade/High Street which we would have to zig-zag around otherwise. The existing block paving is full of trip hazards.

  8. 9 Peter Birkett February 6, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    The best idea is to remove the pond and replace it with the unused Bandstand. Fill the bandstand with a brass band every Saturday/Sunday in the Summer and provide fixed seating (vandalproof). This will attract the shoppers.

  9. 10 Richard Ahrens February 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    The pond should not be removed or reduced in size.
    It is true that this part of Watford is often referred to as the pond area but the Aerial photograph of Watford is very helpful in that it shows that although the pond is the most obvious feature, it is only a small part of the total space. In fact the distance from the top end of the pond to the Rickmansworth Road is at least as long as the pond itself.
    Peter Jeffree’s idea that the top of the town should be extended at street level to the Townhall/Library area needs to be taken seriously. Rickmansworth Road has cut Watford in two, but by putting the road underground, much of the original Watford could be recovered. Simply removing part or all of the pond is not going to transform this end of the town. Watford is blessed with many quite fine buildings but the lower floor of these is often obscured by rather unprepossessing shop fronts. Also, Watford has a very poor record with regard to producing open spaces, but if all the area from the top of the pond to the town hall/library were to become Watford’s town space, then the town would be transformed. Many good things would follow:-

    1. The Town Hall and Library would be reconnected to the town centre.

    2. The Mayor’s dream of creating a ‘cultural’ area of the town around the Town Hall would become a possibility.

    3. There are several shop fronts to the right and left of the pedestrian underpass currently blighted by their proximity to Rickmansworth Road. These two shopping areas would be re-vitalised.

    4. Watford would gain a large town space, usable for all manner of public events.

    It may well be the case that night time revellers help to pollute the pond but it is certainly the case that well-meaning bird feeders throw huge quantities of bread into the water each day and ensure that the algae flourishes.
    In short, while the pond is one of Watford’s assets, the town hall pedestrian underpass is a serious blight on this end of the town.

  10. 11 Paul Jackson February 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I agree with all of Richard Ahrens’ points. I think the pond must be kept but returned to a more natural state. Probably many people don’t realise that it is a natural pond and has been a feature of Watford for at least a couple of hundred years. Watford has lost so many of its historic features over the years – we don’t have many left.

    Get rid of the pigeons and fine the idiots who feed them – a lot of the public seating is covered in pigeon mess.

    Does the council own the old Clements/T.J.Hughes building? If so, then it could be used as an arts/craft/music centre and cheap space for start-up businesses.

    More public art would be good and more seating.

    I think the council has put a cap on alcohol licences at this end of town – it’s a shame some of the existing bars can’t be closed down. I’m not against drinking but they add little or nothing to the daytime experience and contribute to late-night problems.

    I think the bandstand would be better used if it was by the pond.

    Let’s have more street art like the excellent Imagine Watford last year. There were some very good acts – the only problem was that although an excellent printed programme was produced, the whole event didn’t seem to be very well publicised, and this is something the council has been bad at for many years. Walk down the High Street and you wouldn’t know there was a covered market tucked at the back of Charter Place, or that as of this month, there are several new, different stalls popping up in the market, including arts, crafts, food, bric-a-brac, etc. The council definitely needs to improve its marketing department (no pun intended).

    It would be lovely to get rid of the hideous flyover, which definitely acts as a psychological barrier preventing people moving up to The Parade – I suppose the £4million-plus assigned to tarting up the Parade wouldn’t be enough to demolish the flyover – if it was, that would be the biggest improvement that could be made.

  11. 12 Erica Morgan February 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I love the pond and have many happy memories of it over the years. I do not want to see it vandalized by the council. I think it is disgraceful that WBC has basically stopped all maintenance on the pond. They have a duty to keep it clean and clear the water. This only adds to people wanting to get rid of it, it’s an eye sore. It could be such a beautiful area.
    I agree with Paul Jackson that there are too many pubs and clubs in The Parade, they give it a seedy feel. Thank goodness Vogue is no longer a lap dancing club.
    I’d like to see more trees and grass verges. Richard Ahrens makes an excellent point regarding Rickmansworth Road, conceal it! Giving more space and also uniting the top end of the town again.
    Save our pond!

  12. 13 Richard Ahrens February 9, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    I’m not an engineer but I don’t believe that burying Rickmansworth Road is entirely impractical. There is no real need for traffic at surface level. Cars going South from St Albans direction can go under the Beechen Grove roundabout or exit to Bushey or Hemel Hempstead from that roundabout. Cars coming North from Rickmansworth direction could come up to the Beechen Grove roundabout and choose Bushey or Hemel there if they like.

  13. 14 Ian Brandon February 13, 2012 at 10:41 am

    1. Pond must stay – certainly my view and residents I have spoken to want it to stay, just in what form. At least, it needs cleaning regularly.
    2. If there is any way of making the outlets around the pond more diverse, I think all would appreciate it.
    3. The area needs brightening. Whether that is changing the paving to a lighter colour or something else.
    4. The seating area needs to be put around the pond; that would make having lunch or meeting people in the area more attractive.
    5. Cycles need to be sectioned from pedestrians. To do this, why don’t we have small walls or have the cycle lane lower than the footpath like in Kingston-upon-Thames- that would stop cycles from weaving into pedestrians and also make it clearer for pedestrians where the cycle lane is.

  14. 15 G.Isaacs February 15, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    I would like to see the area developed into an arts/crafts area where local artists and craftspeople can have a platform to sell their creations – a bit of a “covent garden” feel.

    There needs to be a fluent link up between the town hall and library with the rest of the high street – big changes to the underpass and/or flyover are needed for this.

    More speciality shops such as antique , book, music, arts and craft shops to be given reasonable rates and priority for renting shops. No tacky shops such as burger bars, kebab shops, pound shops, huge chains and other shops selling tacky rubbish should be allowed.

    Attractive outdoor seating and independent cafes (a bit like the one in Cassiobury park) would also benfit the area.

    More greenery, cobbled streets and attractive lighting.

  15. 16 Colin Churcher March 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    as a business operating right in the middle of this proposed development I obviously welcome the planned improvements and it can only be a positive thing , however i do disagree with the general consensus of keepng the pond in its present form ,i do see the benefits of a similar water based feature of some kind but the present pond is far too big cuts the area in half and it is hard to see how the area can flow with the pond in its current size and shape

  16. 17 Clare June 1, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    As a single person- I would really like to see more of a green space for people to sit and have lunch or a break from the shops. A shaded area and a small play area for kids when they need to let off some steam after being dragged around shops. Ths shops down there do not draw you in and they look shabby now. Perhaps some more arty/crafty ones e.g. pottery painting, jewlerry shops, delicetessans, music shops etc. Art Gallery space would be nice? Some coffee shops that are more community friendly would be great- similar to Cha Cha’s in cassio park where art events are held, yoga classes and good food. I would like the pond to be kept but updated and made more child friendly. It would be good to have a raised space (stps) where bands can play or some buskers. Drama groups could also use a space like that so people can bring fold out chairs to watch. OOOh outdorr film showings. Any of these ideas and combinations would be great.

  17. 18 trt1968 June 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    All this talk of greening and redevelopment etc. When did Lower High Street last get public investment? There’s a huge area down there which is more or less a concrete jungle being gradually eaten up by developers and turned into flats. It used to be family friendly (ish) when the Springs was there, and it’s getting new transport connections with the Croxley Rail Link and the recent London Overground improvements. The CRL will see the nearest station to the Pond being closed! Pointless, unjoined up thinking, Watford Borough Council. You are working on the wrong end of town, but it *IS* the one you see on your way to work at the Town Hall.

  18. 19 Rich June 21, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Whilst I appreciate the need to improve this area of town I do think the budget allocated by the council is excessive. Do we really need to spend over £4m on what is essentially a beautification project when other services (e.g Library opening) are being cut back.

    I’m a Watford council tax payer and It all seems profligate to me.

  19. 20 Erica Morgan June 25, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    There are a couple of points I would like to make. I love The Pond and enjoy the wildlife. At the moment we have three broods of ducklings and a new family of moorhens born in the past week. This is quite unusual and the water at times seems too small for all four families jostling for space. So, for this reason I am against downsizing The Pond, even the weir. The ducks and wild fowl need room during the breeding season.
    Having steps leading into the water is just not a good idea. We had a water feature at Charter Place, someone climbed and slipped so it was closed down. I have been astounded at the behaviour of people after a few drinks around The Parade. I don’t want to see The Pond vandalised yet again to make yet more improvments.

  20. 21 John Reeve June 27, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    I visited the exhibition today with a concern about plans to remove the cycle track. Way back when they first put the track in I commented then that mixing cyclists and pedestrians just does not work. Virtually no pedestrians take any notice making it very difficult for a cyclist. This is exactly what has happened, but at least it is safer than letting cyclists loose to go anywhere. I would be very surprised if the proposed idea is satisfactory for two reasons: there are a small number of teenagers on bikes who ignore any signs and simply don’t care who they upset, thereby giving cyclists in general a bad name. Then there are the hordes of students (a number of them non-English speaking) who ignore every notice and prohibition sign. Many of them leave litter around. The Council has to clear up after them (does the College benefit from sponsoring these students and does it help towards the cost of this?) They sit on the backs of seats with their feet on the seat, quick to hurl abuse if spoken to, and are generally a most undesirable crowd.

    The worst part about developing this end of town is the effect of the Rickmansworth Road about which both Peter Jeffree and Richard Ahrens have recognised and have made sensible suggestions. The noise and pollution from this road virtually make the bit north of the Pond a no-go area. Hopefully the designers recognise this and will have an answer which works.

    I left this exhibition without any hope that the designers will make any changes. They have their plan, and although they listened politely, they did not hear. The meeting seemed to be to placate the enquirers.

  21. 22 John Reeve June 30, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Town Hall Underpass:
    If, as I fear, cyclists and pedestrians will be obliged to mix, except for the more dangerous part which is in the underpass, this may just work satisfactorily if a barrier is continued all the way from the top of one side to the top of the other side and not just on the north ramp; then the cyclist part must be signed “cyclists only” and the other side “pedestrians only”. There would be little point in pedestrians trying to walk down the cycle track if the steps at the library side are no longer used, and it should be safer for all.

  22. 23 John Adams July 1, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Please make the entire space somewhere that has a welcoming feel for people of all ages and is safe at any time of the day or night. Can something can be done about the awful pond that is creative and gives the current boring stalinist looking structure a ‘wow’ factor that stamps the entire precinct as something special. If nothing else changes very much this one feature could still make a significant improvement.

  23. 24 Helena Jackson July 6, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Having read some of the some of the comments on the website, I would like to add my own.

    – The area between the top of the pond and Rickmansworth road is a good existing space, and it’s use had been well demonstrated during the recent Imagine Watford festival 2012. It is large enough for music/ art/ creative performance events to be held, and it would be great seeing it be used for this more.
    – I agree with keeping the pond. It is well used during the day by families, the elderly and those having lunch. The ducklings and ever-present heron show that it is valued by local wildlife. Adding to this by altering the shape slightly would be fine. Improving the water quality would be appreciated – a sustainable an low maintenance option is required, as well as keeping the pond clear of litter and debris
    – Placing a bridge over the pond to make the 2 sides more accessible seems a sensible addition
    – I would like to see a ‘softer’ feel to the pond area so that it is made into a nicer space to be in. The benches around the pond are already well used, but it is currently not a very nice spot in terms of serenity, peacefulness or feel. It is mainly concrete, with little variety in backdrop. The number of closed shops does not add to the feel of a vibrant and engaging space to be in. I think it needs to become more of a destination in itself, rather than a space that people pass through to get from one side of the underpass to the other. I’m not sure how to achieve this, but landscaping might assist.
    – I would like to see more greenery in the area. A higher-level hedge screening Rickmansworth Road will help, although I am not convinced of the need to remove the existing largest tree by the sculpture – as noted in my first point, the ‘activity space’ is already usable and large enough. Although there are a fair number of trees lining the paths further down (from Yates down) there is no gradation of height – all greenery is above eyelevel which means the area still appears to be largely concrete – which it is! Although grass can be hard and costly to maintain, something to distract from the concrete would be welcome.
    – Removing some of the street furniture from the area between the pond and flyover would enable this to be used to greater effect (e.g. outdoor market?), as it is currently a fairly thin narrow strip of available space. In addition, the restaurants, cafes and pubs should assist moving seating areas adjacent to their properties and opening up space in the centre to be used more effectively and ease navigation.
    – If this occurred, the cycle path would not need removing. As a cyclist and pedestrian I appreciate that the current situation is far from ideal, and find that I often stray into the cycle path when on foot, and have to slow down for pedestrians when on bike. However, I feel that it would be potentially dangerous to remove the cycle lane altogether. Having to negotiate pedestrians, dogs and children etc when no-one has an expectation of where the other is heading is recipe for chaos. At least with a cycle path the route of a cyclist is predictable, and both pedestrians and cyclists can account for this in their movements. Greater space on either side, as suggested above, would make it easier to navigate for all, but I really don’t think that removing the cycle path is the answer. Also, I would be wary of adding more barriers to delineate the cycle path – as seen in the underpass at present, pedestrians still use both sides, but then become ‘trapped’ if a cyclist comes past. A different method is required to highlight zone boundaries and make them distinct from each other, encouraging pedestrians and cyclists to stick to their areas as far as possible both night and during the day.
    – Although the use of business premises is probably beyond the scope of this project, more independent shops and community spaces are required. I would love to see and be involved in a community cafe, which for example had evening activities that were educational, creative, stimulating to the brain and did not necessitate vast quantities of alcohol being consumed. Surely with the University so near by, guest speakers and ‘interest evenings’ would be fairly straight forward to arrange? It could be a space for local art and crafts to be displayed, run classes, and have a conversation. I would like to see the profile of the area raised away from the pub/ club atmosphere. Something like this would be my preference to a ‘cafe quarter’ which several others have suggested won’t work as our climate and culture are somewhat different from our continental cousins.

    Overall, the investment in this area is welcome.

  24. 25 dave April 11, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    The Harlequin obviously sucked the daytime life out of The Parade, with the exception of students coming from the college, there is little to attract people to the area. The number of Pubs and nightclubs attract/deter people depending on their age bracket at night.

    I like the idea of dropping the road so the high street could be one large open space instead of having large pedestrian underpass but imagine that is way too expensive ??

    All this debate about the pond could go on forever…the simple truth is indaytime it is not a sufficient “destination” many people make an effort to visit, and at night it is a drunken toilet. I suggest reduce the size, and use the space to expand on things like Last year’s ‘Imagine Watford’ arts festival (That actually attracted me and family to make effort to visit the area)
    The rest of week have regular specialist markets on fixed days and also specialist boutique/art shops. – Cardiff manages this very well, big branded shopping centre (like Harlequin) and small local shops chasing different target audience clustered together, which all shut at 5:30 before Cardiff’s ‘exuberant’ nightlife wakes up…

    You can’t please all the people all the time, but maybe we could please the young and old at 2 different times ?

  25. 26 John Reeve July 5, 2013 at 6:18 am

    Town Hall Underpass: Now that it is intended to remove the steps on the north side to enhance the new events space, this opens up the opportunity to remove also the steps on the library side, making a clear route for cyclists from one side of the underpass to the other without the need for pedestrians to venture onto the cyclist path at all, thus removing the likelihood of collisions to both. This will work provided a railing is provided from one end to the other with, preferably, some sort of restricted “entry” feature to the cycle path (such as an arch with ‘cyclists only’ on it).

  1. 1 Subway Lighting Trial. Have Your Say. « WHAT IF WATFORD Trackback on September 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm

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