Cassio Campus, Watford
As part of West Herts College’s property strategy, their Cassio Campus in Watford became surplus to requirements in late 2010. The development opportunity created as a result came to our attention when it was brought to the open market in May 2007.
Following our selection as the preferred bidder, contracts for an unconditional purchase at a price of £30,050,000 were exchanged in December 2007. Despite the unconditional nature of the deal, legal completion of the purchase was to be deferred until the point when vacant possession became available in late 2010.
The site is located within the established and sought after residential area of Nascot Wood approximately a mile north-west of Watford town centre and comprises a roughly rectangular 4.70 hectares of generally flat land. Although at the time of marketing it did not have a planning consent in place, it was identified as an allocated housing site in the Watford Development Plan and had the benefit of a site-specific Planning Brief.
We spent much of 2008 liaising and negotiating with the Council regarding the precise details of our development proposals. Eventually, a scheme was agreed and our 223 unit planning application was approved by Committee in Jan 2009.
Thereafter, in light of the downturn in the property market and ahead of the refinancing of CALA Group, much of 2009 was spent renegotiating our original contract with the College. Despite the unconditional nature of the contract, we managed to agree and a revised form of deal which allowed us to develop the site under the terms of a building lease with a phased freehold release of fixed tranches of the site in line with a deferred payment schedule.
The resulting development combines leading architectural design, best practice in housing provision and well-planned transport solutions to create a new exemplary neighbourhood centred round a beautiful landscape of mature trees and woodland. The 226 homes (70% private, 30% affordable) occupy just 20% of the total area, with the remaining space dedicated facilities such as a much-needed local grocery store, grassy public open spaces, children’s play areas, an adult trim-trail facility and preserved mature woodland.
Due to the careful thought put to addressing local housing needs, the homes proved highly popular and were sold on target, some at prices exceeding their forecast values.
“Nascot Grange has achieved an important task in creating a new community, which exudes a genuine village community feel. It has blended apartments, mews and family homes in a way that is both sympathetic to its own inhabitants, as well as that of the wider environment in which it sits. OSP is proud to have been a part of this important new neighbourhood.”