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  • What is the Town Hall Quarter Programme?
    The Town Hall Quarter scheme, Watford Borough Council’s major transformation programme, will deliver an exciting range of improvements and enhancements to the area surrounding the town’s historic Town Hall building, revitalising the area and making it an exciting and attractive destination for the community, residents and business. The programme reflects the council’s continuing high level of ambition for the town and its commitment to Watford’s heritage and creativity, securing the long term future of much loved local landmarks, the Town Hall and Watford Colosseum and the town’s Museum and Heritage service. The plans have a strong focus on enterprise and new business, recognising that Watford is a great location for entrepreneurs and growing businesses. To complete the transformation, the scheme will also deliver more appealing public spaces and much needed new homes, all within the new town centre destination.
  • What is the location of the Town Hall Quarter and how big is the programme?
    The 3.5 ha Town Hall Quarter site – which is largely under the Council’s ownership – sits at the north end of Watford High Street. It includes a number of civic uses such as the Town Hall, Watford Colosseum, Watford Central Library, two NHS clinics, the Town Hall Annexe and surface level car parking with around 360 spaces. Rather than being a place to celebrate at the top of the town, the area is severed from the High Street by Rickmansworth Road and peters out into a series of surface car parks. The areas west of the Town Hall and Watford Central Library are dominated by surface car parking and the gyratory surrounding the Avenue Car Park.
  • How long will the programme go on for?
    The 10-year Town Hall Quarter programme brings together eight interconnected projects that will all contribute to revitalising the spaces around the Town Hall, opening up the area to create a vibrant neighbourhood, places for business and areas for all the community to use and enjoy. It is expected to be completed by 2030/31.
  • Who is involved in the project?
    The council proposes to deliver the Town Hall Quarter by entering into a Joint Venture partnership with a developer. The announcement of the selected developer is expected in late 2022. The council is also working with numerous other organisations in the design and development of the project as well as other landowners, leaseholders and those who have a registered interest into the regeneration of the site.
  • Why do we need to transform this area?
    There are a number of reasons: To secure the future for two of Watford’s well-loved historic building – the Town Hall and Watford Colosseum – being part of the wider programme allows the council more options for their future, with the aim to open up both buildings for wider community and business use, including more entertainment, culture and live performances as well as business opportunities such as start up space for new businesses To build sustainability across the programme so that we have more environmentally friendly buildings and are championing greener ways to live, work and travel To improve and connect the top of the town centre from the underpass to West Herts College so that it develops its own unique offer for residents, businesses and visitors, encourages greater footfall and, overall, is able to match the success of the rest of the High Street To create more attractive and well-designed public space around the Town Hall with better pedestrian and cycle pathways To deliver much needed new homes, including affordable homes To relocate the Heritage and Museum Service to a new home where it will be able to properly showcase the town’s history in a way that is easy to access and brings it to life To create a vibrant hub for culture in the area, including Watford Colosseum and Watford Library, to support the town’s cultural, arts and entertainment ambitions, which we know are an important part of our local economy and prosperity To ensure the council is making the best use of its assets and achieving positive returns on its investments in line with its commitment to be more commercial and to reduce its own operating costs
  • How will the programme of works be funded?
    The complex programme of works will be supported through various funding avenues explain below. The council was successfully awarded £3.2million government funding to deliver the decarbonisation works to the Town Hall and Colosseum moving Watford towards its Climate Change objectives. The council will seek to set up a joint venture with a private sector partner to deliver the regeneration project; the joint venture will be responsible for securing funding to deliver the new development. We expect the redevelopment part of the project to support refurbishment and Town Hall costs, adding to the portion of funding the council has already committed to delivery of the programme. The council is seeking additional funding to support the delivery of the programme including from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
  • Will local people have a say in what happens?
    Yes. As the plans emerge and there is something to share, we will be seeking local people’s views. What people tell us will help shape the final proposal before it is formally adopted by the council as what is known as a supplementary planning document. This document will be used to guide future decisions on development proposals and investment in new infrastructure such as roads.
  • How is it proposed that the Town Hall will be used in the future?
    The Town Hall is a very important building to the town and sits within the middle of one of the council's most important conservation areas (the Civic Core conservation area). This has been designated because its architecture and historic interest to the town are seen as worthy of preservation and enhancement. The building itself is Grade II listed. This applies to the whole building but of specific historical interest are: - The Council Chamber - The Committee Rooms - The stairway - The Mayor’s office Whilst other uses of the Town Hall have been explored, the uniqueness of the building and its importance as part of the town’s heritage mean that the best prospects for its long-term future are for it to remain, in part an office building – the purpose it was designed, and built for, back in the 1930s. The council is committed to persevering the Town Hall for future generations and for ongoing civic use but this doesn’t mean it cannot be used for additional purposes, whilst remaining home to Watford Borough Council. A new home for the town’s Museum and Heritage service, which fits well with the historic parts of the building and would allow for the right space, configuration and design of buildings for a modern, forward looking service, more in line with people’s experiences in other areas. The re-designed ground floor of the building will continue to facilitate face to face interaction with Council services in addition to providing a new Committee and Community Room. Opening onto the new town square opposite the library, there will be a café situated in the Town Hall. There will also be office space to support local community organisations and open the Town Hall building up more widely to communities. We recognise the importance of the exterior of the building and so any plans will need to be sympathetic to the look and feel of the building and ensure the Town Hall is located within a setting that is both attractive and appropriate to its historic importance. This would also apply to the Colosseum. Plans for both buildings have recently been awarded listed building consent.
  • So is the council moving its offices or staying where it is?
    Whilst the council has explored alternative accommodation in the town, the Town Hall Quarter will consider the council remaining in the vicinity of the Town Hall, albeit on a much smaller footprint than its current offices. The experience from the pandemic has shown that the council can provide a good service to residents, businesses and other customers without being physically located in a building. However, we also recognise that, for some areas of work, it really helps for staff to get together to discuss what they are doing and to combine their creativity and new ideas. We want to be known as a really forward looking, innovative council and so part of the Town Hall Quarter Programme will be to see what this means in terms of how we work and the space and type of accommodation we will need. It also fits well with our drive to be more commercial and to reduce our operating costs, so we can focus more of our resources on the services and facilities that matter to local people.
  • What about the Town Hall Annexe?
    Two floors are occupied (BBC and Sexual Health Clinic) and the two upper floors are currently being used by the council in the short-term to enable re-purposing of the Town Hall. Through the Town Hall Quarter programme the council’s objectives are to deliver increased usage of the Town Hall and Annexe with a particular focus on providing space for Watford Museum and Heritage Service, council office accommodation, community use and Innovation Hub. The current plans include the Innovation Hub within the Annexe on the top two floors when the Council offices relocate back into the Town Hall.
  • When will the new Museum open?
    The new museum will open in autumn 2025.
  • Why is the current museum building closing now?
    The museum has been in its current building since 1981. During this time the museum’s collection of objects and artefacts has grown to over 40,000 items. All these items have to be checked against the Museum’s catalogue before they are carefully moved to their new home at the Town Hall. To do this properly, we need time and space and so will take a considerable amount of staff time over the next year. After this, the Museum team will be working on getting the new museum at the Town Hall ready for opening in autumn 2025.
  • What Museum activities can we expect from October 2023?
    We are really excited to be taking Watford Museum ‘on the road’, with a series of ‘pop up museums’ over the next 18 months, starting during October 2023 half term.
  • Will other Museum services be available?
    Until the new Museum opens, the services and activities the Museum can offer will be different. Loan boxes As the collection is being catalogued, we will not be able to offer loan boxes until the new Museum opens. Available resources We do have some free downloadable resources here that might be helpful: There may also be some information about significant Watford individuals for your planning later in the year here: Another useful planning website may be School visits We will not be offering school visits from October 2023. As soon as we can offer visits to new museum Available school activities We can still do educational / learning talks at schools or at other venues. Please email Research requests We will not be able to support these until the new Museum opens. Event bookings As the current building is closed, it will not be available to hold any events. If you need event space for a group or an activity, please contact: for advice. Work experience Whilst we won’t be able to offer work experience at the Museum, Watford BC does have a work experience scheme to offer opportunities to anyone interested in finding out about working in local government. Please contact: Volunteering We have welcomed some fantastic volunteers over the years who have supported the Museum and helped made the service such an important, and enjoyable, part of the town. The new Museum will be offering a range of volunteering opportunities when it opens. Taking donations We love receiving donations that tell Watford’s story and history. However, whilst we are managing the current collection for the move and ready exhibitions at the new museum, we cannot accept donations.
  • How can I keep up to date with what is happening with the new museum?
    We have a website which covers the council’s Town Hall Quarter programme, which is a major programme of transformation and improvement, centred around our landmark Town Hall.As the new museum is going to be in the Town Hall, it is part of this programme and all the news and updates are posted on this website: The current Museum website will also be updated but we are planning on launching a new website, which will reflect our exciting new museum.
  • Can I help shape the new Museum and Heritage service?
    We are creating an exciting programme of activities and events for all ages for the new museum and would love to hear what people would like to see as part of the programme. You can let us know your thoughts about the activities programme as well as the plans for the new museum by completing our survey at:
  • What does this mean for Watford Museum?
    The existing listed 1775 museum building, which has been a permanent home for the Museum since 1981, has outgrown the practical requirements of the museum and also the ever-growing collection. The council is developing plans to relocate the Museum to a new premises within the historic Town Hall and return the existing museum building back to its original residential use. This provides an exciting opportunity to really consider what a modern, forward looking Heritage and Museum Service should look like for Watford and we will be working with our local heritage community and residents on what they would like to see as part of this project. One thing we are clear about is the importance of this service to the town and that any future plans need to attract more people, both local and from further afield, to share in Watford’s unique history.
  • What will happen to the current building?
    When the museum and heritage service leaves its current location in Benskin House, the building is likely to be sold. The building is an important piece of Watford’s heritage, and its Grade II Listing will ensure it is protected for future generations.
  • Why is the Museum changing?
    Watford is a town with an amazing history and lots of stories to tell about the people who have lived here over the years.We are also a town that celebrates our living history and are always looking to the future. Our current Museum building has served the town for nearly forty years but as the town has changed over the decades, we want to better recognise our diverse and vibrant community in a way that reflects Watford and inspire people to find out more.This is not possible in the current building because its listing limits what can be done, particularly in terms of accessibility but also in terms of what technology can bring to the museum experience. Moving the museum and heritage service opens up a wealth of opportunities to create something really special and which attracts more people to find out more about the town they live in or visit.
  • Where will the Museum be moving to?
    The new museum and heritage service will move to the front of Watford Town Hall, using the historic, listed committee rooms as well as other parts of the ground floor and first floor.
  • When is this happening, what is the timetable?
    A lot of planning has already been done, which is why we are able to show people what the new museum might look like – see our consultation page. We have a provisional timeline for launching the new service: Summer / Autumn 2023 | Consultation on the proposals October 2023 | Current museum closes to the general public to allow for the Museum to be catalogued and moved safely October 2023 October 2023/Autumn 2025 | Interim 'pop-up' Museum to offer heritage experiences Autumn 2025 | New Museum and Heritage service opens
  • What can we expect in the new Museum?
    The proposals for the new museum can be found on the consultation pages. We are delighted that the National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting us and helping shape the proposals.
  • What will happen to Watford Colosseum and how will it be used in the future?
    The Colosseum is recognised as an outstanding entertainment and live performance venue, with internationally renowned acoustics and an exceptional history of acts who have performed on its stage. Over the next 9 months, the council is planning a significant programme of refurbishment and improvement to bring the Colosseum up to modern standards ensuring it continues as a popular Watford landmark, attracting great performers and artists. Refurbishment of the building, including the replacement of end-of-life machinery, is overdue and this period without an operator, in addition to £3.2m of funding from Central Government to decarbonise the Town Hall and Colosseum, has provided an ideal opportunity to proceed with the refurbishment.
  • What actual works will take place?
    The Colosseum is more than 80 years old and some of the fabric of the building is reaching end-of-life. It underwent refurbishment around 10 years ago, but this landmark building is now in need of some further essential works and enhancements to secure its long-term future. We are committed to securing a sustainable long-term future for this important heritage building, bringing it up to modern standards, making it energy efficient and providing it with a 25 year life expectancy.
  • Who will be running the Colosseum?
    Watford Borough Council’s Cabinet have appointed global venue operator and concert promoter AEG Presents to run Watford Colosseum when it reopens after extensive refurbishment works next spring. AEG came out top following a rigorous procurement process to find the right operator for the much-loved Colosseum, with the company - which oversees a global network of over 350 preeminent arenas, stadiums, theatres and clubs across the world, including indigo at the award-winning The O2 arena - matching the council’s ambitions to put the venue firmly on the live entertainment and performance map. Throughout the procurement, AEG demonstrated their ability to attract an outstanding mix of live music, comedy and dance acts to Watford, enhancing the town’s entertainment and cultural offer and making an important contribution to the local economy.
  • What is the Town Hall and Colosseum Decarbonisation project?
    To help secure the sustainable long-term future of the Watford Colosseum and the Town Hall, funding has supported the installation of low-carbon heating measures, alongside heat reduction and energy efficiency measures in the 1930s, Grade II listed buildings. This has reduced the overall energy consumption of these buildings by 50% and makes an important contribution to the council’s carbon neutral commitment for Watford by 2030.
  • How much does this cost?
    Watford Borough Council has been awarded £3.2m government funding to help secure the sustainable long-term future of the Watford Colosseum and the Town Hall. The green grant funding, awarded by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as part of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, is also a significant boost to the council’s Town Hall Quarter programme
  • Why are we doing this?
    One of the greatest challenges today in meeting the UK’s 2050 Net Zero target is decarbonising the way buildings are heated. Watford’s elected councillors also declared a climate emergency and have pledged “to do everything in their power” to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030. Most of the buildings in the public sector still rely on fossil fuel based heating and as these heating systems approach the end of their working lives it is an ideal opportunity to transition to low carbon heating. This major improvement scheme has identified the protection and enhancement of Watford’s heritage and cultural assets, which includes the Colosseum and Town Hall, as one of its top priorities.
  • What do the actual works entail?
    Over the last year, a £3.2m grant from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has been used to improve the energy performance of the buildings. The works include: installing PV panels for renewable energy, improved heating control and lighting, the refurbishment of the windows to reduce heat loss, as well as new cavity wall insulation.
  • When will the works be completed?
    May 2023
  • What is the New Neighbourhood Project?
    The ambitions for the Town Hall Quarter Programme to realise the vision of creating ‘a vibrant and thriving hub in the heart of the town’ are cemented by the redevelopment of the surrounding area to promote investment and growth in Watford, secure transition to a low-carbon economy and support the cultural and creative sectors alongside the delivery of a vibrant and attractive new neighbourhood. Following a competitive dialogue procurement process, in November 2022 Cabinet approved the recommendation of Mace Develop as a preferred private sector development partner with whom the council could establish a joint venture (JV) vehicle to develop the land around the Town Hall. Mace and the council agreed to pause formal investment at the current time due to existing market uncertainty but work on a business plan continues.
  • What’s the need for housing within the Town Hall Quarter?
    There is a national need for more homes across the UK, with Central Government’s target currently set at 14,000 new homes over 18 years in the town. Housing in Watford is currently relatively low rise and low density, particularly for a town less than 30 minutes from London by train. Building new homes within the Town Hall Quarter will create a more vibrant centre with more local footfall and doorstep activity.
  • Will the right infrastructure be in place to support housing?
    The council is aware that infrastructure such as schools, GPs, dentists and hospitals; affordability; transport has to be available for possible residents and will account for this as part of the masterplan.
  • What is the Business Hub and the plans?
    The Business Hub will aim to support a range of innovative businesses with the potential to grow. As well as providing accommodation, it offers numerous support services, such as access to equipment, business networking, business guidance, training, mentoring, investment and funding opportunities. It typically offers a structured growth pathway for businesses, through a range of packages, resulting in newly created businesses moving onto their own accommodation as they expand, making way for newcomers to start their journey. It also promotes ‘clustering’ of businesses in a specific sector to stimulate further benefits. Revenues are generated from these packages and also from additional offers including rental of meeting room space and cafes.
  • Why create an Business Hub?
    The development of a new business hub, would enhance the town’s offer for business, providing inspiring, productive and connected working space and investment in kit for businesses, all to accelerate business growth, collaboration, learning and wellbeing.
  • Is there demand for a Business Hub?
    Market analysis has also been conducted which has indicated that there is demand for such a facility within Watford. The council has also undertaken some high level research with the support of an experienced economic development analyst. This has included a range of interviews with stakeholders and operators. One of these initiatives was an online survey of local small businesses. This showed that there is an appetite for support, ranging from financing to practical business advice and mentoring, combined with a desire to network.
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