Development and consultation
Public consultation took place in late 2006 and early 2007. A significant groundswell of support has been expressed by the Watford community, recognising the need and value for sophisticated modern educational.
Inevitably, perhaps, there have been objections, both to the principle of placing a large new college close to existing homes, and to practical considerations such as visual effects, noise, boiler flue emissions, pressure on parking, student behaviour, and effects on wildlife. All these points are explained on other pages.
Such opposition as has been expressed has come from about a dozen near neighbours, most recently focusing on the placement, noise pollution and flues associated with a service intake yard and building at the rear of the development, close to householders’ gardens.
The college has treated such concerns with consideration, using consultation, visits to their homes (group meetings and more often individually), plus meetings on campus. Also, meetings and communications with ward councillors and wider resident groups – although more recently the college has kept a low profile in an effort not to inflame sentiments.
Measures to mitigate impacts through mature tree planting, colour blending of walls and flues, and noise attenuation have already gone beyond anything required in the planning approval. The most recent measure, in April, was the planting of three trees 8 metres tall, at considerable cost, to further improve the screening, creating an even more effective arboreal barrier, looking natural with trees of different ages.
Highly-publicised claims that noxious fumes from boiler flues are poisoning neighbours’ children are baseless: the emissions have been water vapour predominantly, a fact soon to be independently verified.
The limited provision of parking is an issue determined by government policy. Students and staff no longer park at the Hempstead Road campus.
In spite of consulting openly with neighbours and the council’s planners from the outset, there have been planning obstacles which are not yet fully resolved. However, it is expected they will be before or soon after the new campus is open in September.
In the meantime, the college is willing to engage in further discussion with individuals or their representatives over any remaining issues or enhancements they may seek.