On the 13th July my cabinet discussed key projects we are working on to make Watford a better place. Many of these will be familiar to you, but I just wanted to update you on progress.
Improving access to our local hospital
Work has started on the new hospital access road, which will link Dalton Way to Watford General Hospital. When complete it will become the main access for all traffic visiting the hospital - not just emergency vehicles. The road will make it much easier for people to get to the hospital - whether by car, bicycle or on foot. It is part of the wider health campus regeneration, which provides land for new hospital facilities as well as regenerating a large area of derelict land to create new homes (including affordable homes), jobs and public open space. Work on the road should be finished by October 2016. For more information about the Health Campus click here
Metropolitan Line Extension (Croxley Rail Link)
This project is about to be formally taken over by Transport for London, who will then take it forward. The first trains are due to run in May 2019, with new stations at Ascot Road and Vicarage Road. It will bring Metropolitan Line trains into Watford Junction and be the biggest public transport improvement we have seen in Watford in most people’s lifetime. At present the plan is to close the existing Metropolitan Line station, but I will certainly be alert to any possibility of keeping that station open and continuing to run trains there.
Town centre car park improvements
The poor condition of the town centre car parks outside the intu Centre has really let down our town centre, but a 25-year lease agreed back in 1990 meant that we were not able to get the extra investment to improve them. This has now changed and the council has reached an agreement with a new operator that means Church, Gade and Sutton car parks will see real improvements over the next few months, so that visiting these car parks will be a much more pleasant experience. There's also investment coming from intu for the Palace car park - keep your eyes peeled for new parking equipment such as new pay machines and barriers coming soon.
There are a couple of other issues I should mention here also:
Heritage and conservation
Watford was recently shortlisted for a national ‘Excellence in Planning’ awards for its work on management of conservation areas. While we didn’t win the award, it was good to have some recognition of what we are doing to protect Watford’s built environment. While I realise Watford is not a heritage destination like, say, Bath or Oxford, for me that makes it all the more important to protect the historic streets and buildings we do have. For more on Watford’s 10 conservation areas, click here
It was great to see so many people enjoying events at the Imagine Watford and Watford Live festivals and we were blessed with good weather. For me, bringing outdoor live performances to the town centre makes a difference to the wellbeing of the town, so that it’s a place that people enjoy visiting. Many people have told me they are looking forward to the 'Big Beach' which runs from 25 July to 2 August. There is lots planned, from yoga and beach workouts to parties for children and adults alike! For more details click here