What is the need?
Watford Borough Council has an aspiration that Watford should be a town in which participation in sport increases for everyone and there is a thriving and vibrant sporting infrastructure with high quality, well maintained, financially viable and environmentally sustainable sports facilities, capable of accommodating local demand.
Woodside is a popular and well used leisure centre and home to Watford Harriers Athletics Club, Watford Town Cricket Club, Watford Boxing Club, Watford Sunday League and Youth Football Clubs, and Watford Indoor Bowls Club. However, despite the strong role that the site currently plays in providing sports facilities for these popular local clubs, there are a number of weaknesses with the condition of the existing buildings, how they are used and how they relate to each other. The project will seek to unite the different facilities presently operating in isolation and create a clear identity for this part of the site as an attractive, community focussed, multi-sports hub.
What will the project achieve?
The project will deliver;
- Club house facility for Watford Cricket Club with integral community hall that will be available for use by other site users and the community.
- A park café located within the existing stable block building with community spaces, improved toilet facilities and an outdoor courtyard for café seating and events.
- Refurbishment and modernisation of the Watford Boxing Club gym.
- Updated and modernised changing facilities for use by the football, cricket and boxing clubs
- Children’s adventure play area and sensory garden
- Increased parking provision to meet current and future demand:
- Improvements to pedestrians pathways between the Community Hub and Albans Woods
Which areas of the Park will be affected?
This project will impact areas to the West side of the Woodside Site. The project boundary is shown in blue outline on the master plan drawing which can be viewed on the Master Plan page.
Does the project require planning permission?
Yes. Preliminary design will start in November 2020 and planning permission will be sought in early 2021 once design schemes have been completed.
What consultation has been carried out?
Watford Borough Council has undertaken a number of consultation events. In 2012 the Council commissioned an evidence based study and analysis of sport facilities in the town. Supply of and demand was looked at for a range of common sports facilities in the Borough and the consultation identified the need for cost effectively improving provision to meet local demand. In 2015 the Council commissioned a stakeholder workshop to look at options for delivering Watford’s first Strategic Sports Site at Woodside North and initiated the master planning process.
In 2017 a conceptual master plan was created for improvements at Woodside and used for the purposes of consulting with stakeholders. Engagement was undertaken with the current occupiers of the site, local schools, ward councillors, sports clubs and national sports governing bodies. The Council was also keen to seek the views of the wider public including current users and no-users of the sites facilities, through an online questionnaire and public drop in sessions, to provide an opportunity for them to feedback on the draft master plan.
The majority of stakeholders, including resident clubs, supported the central principle of the masterplan to develop a strategic sports hub. Other key stakeholders, including the leisure operator SLM and grounds maintenance contractor, Veolia also welcomed the proposals. A significant majority of the local residents surveyed during the consultation process were also very supportive.
How much will the project costs? Who is funding it?
The project will be funded from Council’s capital budget. Costs are estimated to be in the region of £5.5-£6 million, however firm costs will be known once the design is developed.
There are also opportunities to attract additional grant funding which are being fully explored. There are also opportunities for income generation which will be developed through the course of the project.
How long will it take?
We are currently in the preliminary design stages. Detailed technical design is expected to be completed by mid-2021.
Construction will start on site in September 2021 and will be planned to be completed by mid-2022.
Who is delivering the project?
The project is being delivered by Watford Borough Council with specialist support from a multi-disciplinary design team.
One main building contractor will be appointed in August 2021 to deliver the building works and all external works.
What is a community sports hub?
A community sports hub is focussed around the clubs in a sports centre, local organisations and the local community. Its aims are to bring the clubs together so that they jointly provide an improved sports offering. Each community sport hub will be unique but there a several common principles on which they all work, namely: driving growth in participation, engaging the local community, offering a range of sporting opportunities, helping to bring all key partners/groups/people together.