Plans that will secure the long term future of two of the town’s landmark historic buildings and transform them for greater community use were approved by the council's Cabinet..
The proposals for Watford Colosseum and the Town Hall, both outstanding Grade II listed buildings, are part of the council’s ambitious 10-year Town Hall Quarter programme. Through the programme, Watford and the local community will benefit from significant investment over the next decade that will create jobs, enhance the town’s heritage, boost creative opportunities for entertainment and live performances and contribute to achieving a greener, more sustainable town. Additionally, the scheme will deliver a significant saving to the council’s accommodation costs of around £300k each year.
The investment in Watford Colosseum will support a comprehensive refurbishment of the much-loved venue complemented by a range of exciting enhancements and improvements that will open up the building for greater use by local performers and creative and arts groups. At the same time, the council will secure an experienced operator to manage the venue who will bring the very best of entertainment to the town, including the comedians, live bands, music and entertainment the Colosseum is known for nationally when it reopens in 2023. Committing to the long term future of the Colosseum not only protects a vital part of Watford’s heritage and history, it also paves the way for the venue to contribute nearly £2million to the local economy each year, provide around 100 jobs plus a range of volunteering opportunities.
The investment in the Town Hall will see the building transformed into a hub for both the community and business as it throws open its doors to a range of new activities. The council recognised the significant refurbishment needed to keep the 1930s building running allows it to radically reduce its own footprint, providing a great opportunity for the Town Hall to become home to an exciting number of new uses.
At the heart of the plans for the Town Hall is protecting the wonderful art deco history of the building, making it a great fit for a new location for Watford’s Museum. The exciting proposals for the new Museum embrace the building’s historic areas, using them as backdrops for galleries to celebrate ‘all things Watford’ – from the history of the people who live in the town, t its links with print, brewing, film and entertainment to its much loved football club, Watford FC. Other plans for the Town Hall, will see the creation of dedicated space for Watford’s entrepreneurs and business start-ups, helping to increase local job opportunities and additional spaces to support local cultural organisations and charities in the town.
Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, said: “Now, more than ever, it is vital that we remain ambitious for our town and keep investing in Watford. These plans not only protect two wonderful Grade II listed buildings but they will also deliver a real boost to our local economy, making Watford a fantastic centre for new and growing businesses as well as culture, arts and entertainment.
“Transforming the Town Hall into a lively community and business hub as well as a new home for the Museum not only makes better use of the building, it makes sound financial sense for the council, cutting the cost of our office space and delivering a good deal for council taxpayers.
“This opportunity also supports the town’s ambitions to achieve carbon zero by 2030, with a major programme of work to make both the Town Hall and the Colosseum greener and more energy efficient currently underway.”