Plans to turn a locally listed bank into a block of flats have been refused again by the tightest of margins.

Councillors voted 5-4 to reject a scheme to demolish the former Lloyds bank in St Albans Road in Watford and turn it into an eight-storey building made up of 21 flats.

There would have been a coffee shop and estate agents on the ground floor.

The scheme proposed no affordable housing.

Harrow Times:

The plans Watford Borough Council's planning committee considered last week

Alex McGregor Pearson from the Nascot Residents' Association (NRA) was invited to speak in the meeting and he argued that the developer, Fairfield Estate Agents, had not "demonstrated that the loss of the heritage asset outweighed the public benefit of retaining the former bank building".

The NRA also considered the scale of the development "not needed" following recent approvals for a number of tall buildings close to the application site.

In response, the developer's agent, David Marshallsay, said this planning application was the subject of "extensive pre-application discussions with the council”, after a previous application was refused on the basis it "failed to preserve or enhance" the Nascot Conservation Area due to its design and size.

Mr Marshallsay added: "The applicant undertook two meetings in February and March 2019 [with the council], including one with Watford’s conservation manager.

"The conservation manager had only three minor design related comments. These were resolved and the council stated in a subsequent email, 'the scheme was ready for submission'.”

Harrow Times:

The previous design, which retained the facade of the bank

Mr Marshallsay also argued the new design was of "high quality" and "respectful" of the Nascot conservation area.

But it was down to the planning committee to make the decision.

Some members of the committee considered that the benefits of retaining the former bank were "limited". The façade had "minimal appeal and looked tired".

Other members argued that whilst locally listed buildings were not to be protected at all costs, any redevelopment of the site should be "in keeping" with the Nascot conservation area.

The committee went with the council officer's recommendation to refuse the scheme.

Nascot ward councillor Mark Hofmann spoke against the scheme describing the proposed building as "out of scale" for the area.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Hofman, who is not on the planning committee, said: "Lloyds Bank was built in 1928 and it is a rare example of an art-deco style building with elements of neo-classical design still standing in Watford.

"Attractive old buildings - or even their facades - can be kept. The listed bank is a prominent landmark and that’s why residents have fought for nearly two years to keep it."

Fairfield gained permission for its first scheme of 14 flats after a successful appeal but dropped the plans after the scheme, which kept the facade, was deemed as unviable.