Premier League club Watford FC will not be able to relocate to a new 33,000-seat stadium on a former golf course site after plans were dismissed by local planners.
The club has never officially commented on proposals for the redevelopment of Bushey Hall Golf Club, which included a stadium as well as an arena, hotel and conference facilities. However, the local Watford Observer newspaper reports the club – which is keen to move or expand Vicarage Road – had been “scoping out the opportunity” of a move to Bushey Hall and had held preliminary talks with Hertsmere Borough Council.
The project now looks to have been officially scrapped, according to the Observer, after Bushey Hall was not included in a document published by the council this week detailing all sites that could be developed for housing and employment opportunities until 2038. This comes three months after Ross Whear, head of planning, said plans to redevelop Bushey Hall Golf Club “were not being taken forward”.
Bushey Hall closed as an 18-hole golf course in 2019, with the clubhouse being redeveloped into 32 flats. The site’s owners, Veladail Leisure, had proposed a two-phase plan for the development of a package of land spanning over 40 hectares.
The site, officially proposed by HGH Consulting on behalf of Veladail, named Watford FC as the proposed occupier. A 33,000-seat stadium anchored the mixed-use project, which would also have included the likes of a 6,000-seat arena and a hotel and conference facility.
With Bushey Hall now officially off the table, Watford’s stadium plans would be reliant on finding a different site or expanding its current Vicarage Road stadium, which the club has been exploring the possibility of doing.
In October 2019, it was reported that Populous had been enlisted to advise Watford on the expansion of Vicarage Road, specifically to finalise designs for a two-phase, £40m (€46.7m/$55.6m) project that would significantly increase the stadium’s capacity from 21,577 to 32,000.
Watford has played at Vicarage Road since the stadium opened in 1922. The ground last underwent expansion in 2015 when 700 seats were added to the Sir Elton John Stand. The club won promotion back to the Premier League last season.