Watford town centre is a vibrant and lively heart to the town which, despite being only 16 minutes from London by train, has maintained its pre-eminent position in the SW Herts sub-region and is not suffering from the decline facing many town centres.
However, there are some areas in Watford which look tired compared with the recently rebuilt area around the intu Watford. The High Street is very long and seems to decline northwards where the Exchange Road flyover crosses. This area has lower end retail, but it also has independent restaurants and a number of pubs and nightclubs. The numerous charity shops and some vacant properties indicate a location on the margins of viability.
The area does have space for good quality outdoor seating for the restaurants and public houses in the area, creating a sense of pavement café culture that could be further enhanced. The space around The Pond hosts a number of events every year including an ice rink at Christmas, a beach in the summer and outdoor film screenings.
Beyond The Pond, the current configuration of the Rickmansworth Road cuts across the traditional street layout, with a pedestrian/cycle subway that leads to West Herts College, Watford Leisure Centre, Watford Central Library, The Colosseum Theatre, a Public House in a listed building, two NHS clinics, the Town Hall and a surface level car park.
There is a need to revitalise this wider area to help reinforce Watford’s role as a key destination.