Batford. New homes, developments & jobs


Background  Activity 2012

Politicians of all parties are agreed on one policy...the UK needs business growth, big time. So how can Batford and it’s residents play a role in supporting this objective? It’s all down to the imminent development of the Lea Industrial Estate on the lower Luton Road in the heart of Batford. Landlord Torminster Properties is ready to sell the estate and Jarvis are keen to buy and develop the whole area. (all subject to planning permission etc)


Update 8th May from the Environment Agency

Chris Bienemann from the Environment Agency said:

"It is the Environment Agency's responsibility to ensure that planning applications submitted to councils will not cause the risk of flooding to increase or harm the environment. The site at Lea Industrial Estate falls within the highest risk flood plain. Any redevelopment of the site will have to be designed to ensure that the site is safe from flooding and that it will not increase the level of flood risk elsewhere.  We have been involved in pre-application discussions relating to this site and will continue to do so to ensure that flood risk is fully considered in any planning application."

Update from Jarvis Group 30th April

Mike Peters (Developments Managing Director) issued me with the following statement.

“The site is still owned by Torminster whilst Jarvis and PCA have formed a joint company and have secured a long term option to acquire the site. These three parties as the principle stakeholders, anticipate working in partnership to re develop the site.

Prior to any formal plans being prepared, a consultation process has been instigated to try and ascertain the views of the various relevant and interested parties. In the consultations to date, the following have been approached: B.C.A.G. and S.A.D.C, as well as representatives of Harpenden Town Council, The Harpenden Society, estate occupiers and the Environment Agency.

As soon as more definitive information has been received from the Environment Agency, a more detailed concept plan will be prepared and distributed for further comment.

In any redevelopment, our primary objective is to ensure we retain the estates largest employer PCA on site and create an environment in which their business can continue to flourish, generating further employment opportunities.

At this stage, we anticipate the balance of the site being developed for a mixture of office, industrial and residential uses. There may also be the prospect of some community use, but we do not envisage any retail based development.”

The Landlord

Torminster Properties have owned the site since it’s development under the Lester family.

I spoke to David Lester on April 11th and he advised me that they were ‘in partnership’ with Jarvis to develop the whole site and make it a far more attractive proposition. Their Agents have been trying to sell Units C & D for over a year but with no interest at all. Ron Taylor.

The existing tenants

Plowman Craven have the largest unit employing almost 100 people in a high tech measurement survey business. They want a newly built unit that reflects their technology image and allows for growth. If a development is not proposed within the next 6 months they will leave and move to an industrial park in Luton.

I spoke to Matt Swan, the owner of Plowman Craven on April 11th and he also advised me of the ‘partnership’ with Jarvis to develop the site with a new unit for Plowman Craven. He also anticipated establishing another of his businesses on the site to bring more employment to the area. The alternative being to move to Capability Green in Luton. Ron Taylor.

Hydewood have a medium size unit making accessories for the world wide furniture business employing 12+ staff. They want to stay on site and expand.

Emmaus, a charity with a staff of 10,  have a retail warehouse selling second hand furniture and accessories.

The Local Councils

Herts, St Albans and Harpenden councils are all positive about the potential of the development and seem keen to support progress and expedite planning once submitted.

I spoke to Harpenden Town Mayor, Mike Weaver, on April 19th who is aware of the the issues. He firmly believes that the Town Council will support a planned scheme that has environmental, community and commercial benefits for Batford. With his St. Albans & District Chamber of Commerce hat on he thinks it is up to Jarvis to devise a commercially viable plan, balanced between residential and  commercial property with a realistic retail presence.

The Environmental Agency

The government body responsible for the River Lea and local wild life. Part of the development site is in a flood plane area, so provision would need to be made to protect people and buildings (commercial and residential) from potential flooding dangers. Additionally a 7 metre wide pathway on the south side of the river bank would need to be provided to access the river.

Batford Community Action Group

Representing the residents of Batford, under the chairmanship of Chris Grey, they have proposed an ambitious idea to develop a multi purpose industrial/commercial site with a retail park.

Chris  Grey also responded on April 11th.

“Since the 1950’s there has been little or no investment to enrich the quality of life on the East side of Harpenden, and a simplistic way to look at this is in 1951-71 there was a plan in which to provide 560 houses, 12 shops and a Cinema.  In real terms, the housing figure was just over 1,000, 6 shops and no cinema to which we have in terms of shops, only three left.  In 2012 the launch of the Localism Bill has been put into place with the view of giving the Community more say in what happens in the area in which we live, we have

also been asked by local Government to put a 30 year plan together, as part of a wish list for what the community would like to see.  There has always been a big voice

on this side of Harpenden for greater infrastructure to be provided, for all the houses that have been built since the 1950’s such as Doctors, Chemist/Pharmacy, and a more broader

spectrum of shops and businesses. 


The Lea Industrial Estate having served its time and purpose is pretty much derelict, and requires rejuvenation for the greater good of the area, and the long term

prosperity it could offer.  With the land being up for disposal by the current owners this is a once in a lifetime opportunity since the second world war, for Batford to make a real presence in this part of Harpenden.  The Town Centre and Southdown have seen changes galore to make it a thriving and prosperous area, and Batford has been allowed to be forgotten.  It is the BCAG’s intention and desire to change the stigma and perception of how Batford has been viewed over the  years.  I would like to make it quite clear, we have no wish

for the current tenants on the site to feel that they might have to move, and if we get the balance right to tick all the boxes from everybody’s point of view then the image can be created to achieve their goals, while having the infrastructure to support the present tenants and the new ones.”

 Chris Grey



Listening to Mike Peters from Jarvis on March 22nd it would seem that Jarvis have visions of an industrial site with housing developments and a limited retail occupancy.

Listening to Chris Grey from BCAG they have visions of a new commercial heart for Batford with industrial units, several retail outlets, a pub, restaurant, coffee bar focused around a central square.


Following a BCAG meeting on March 29th a proposal was raised to consider the demolition of The Malta pub on the Lower Luton Road with housing to be built there and on the former car park. The Malta would then be rebuilt on the Lea Industrial site as one of the retail developments.

MY VIEW from Hydewood owner Peter Bush.

I met Peter on March 30th and was given a guided tour of their impressive workshop, meeting a number of their skilled staff. Peter told me they have been on site for 25 years but were now on a holding lease while the situation was being resolved. “We export 10% of our production to places as far afield as China and Australia so we can compete with the best in the business.” Sales in the UK go to some major brands like Costa Coffee, Parker Knoll, Sharps Bedrooms and David Wilson Homes so you might well be in close contact with their products every day. Peter told me, “I want to stay here in Batford and expand the business back to it’s pre-recession days and take on at least 2 more staff”


Every involved party has to react with haste--in the next 8 weeks---and submit their ideas. Jarvis have an architect on stand by to take account of the needs of all parties.


I will be approaching the other interested parties during the next week or so to check out their views and report updates. So log on weekly to see what’s happening.      


Top Photo. The main approach to the estate.

Below. Peter and June Bush of Hydewood.

Above. Inside the Hydewood factory

Below. The River Lea, potential to create an improved wildlife haven and riverside walks.

Above. The colourful emmaus vehicle outside their furniture warehouse

Below. Low level land adjacent to the river bank and a large factory unit now closed.

Feb 2015. New Care Home Now Open --Lea Springs

A brand new development on the corner of Common Lane is now almost fully occupied with residents who need extra care in the later part of their lives. There are sixteen units ‘for sale’ and twenty two ‘for social renters’.

The ‘housing & care21 Home Ownership group provide 24 hour carer service (not nursing) and have provided an onsite cafe/restaurant facility and a hairdressing salon. Connells the Estate Agents are handling the property sales. Buyers aged 55+ own up to 75% of the value with 25% retained by the Association.

A recent two bedroom unit was on the market for £210,000 (for the 75%)

Boom time in Batford

New Secondary School and New Affordable Homes

Batford has gone through a huge transition in 2016 with a large affordable housing development now complete and a new commercial building ready occupied by Plowman and Craven.

The old industrial site has been flattened during the last 24 months allowing Lodge Park to build blocks of apartments, maisonettes and a commercial building facing  the River Lea on one side and adjacent to the main road.



New home for Plowman Craven

Plowman Craven, one of the original businesses on the site, have moved into their new building during  thus maintaining the presence of a large technology company in the area.

New Secondary School

And with the site purchase for the new secondary school now agreed it won’t be long before this development begins, bringing with it a big boost to the local economy and further vitality to the area.

Jan 2017

There are still many issues to be resolved--click here to go to the Schools page for details


See what the brownfield site looked like before the transformation