April 21, 1944:
The whole of the future of Watford and its status as a separate town is lying in the balance as the result of the two-day’s Inquiry held at the beginning of this week in the Council Chamber at Watford Town Hall, to decide whether the Minister of Health shall confirm the compulsory purchase order made by the London County Council, enabling them to acquire Oxhey Place Estate, including the beautiful Oxhey Woods, as a site for a housing scheme for 15,000 to 20,000 London workers.
A great fight for the retention of the estate as a green belt between Watford and the ever-growing “sprawl” of London was put up.
“The decision toaquire land at Oxhey wasconfirmed by the Minister of Helth. Alittleover 921 acers will be aquired for development as a cottage-estate to meet post-war needs. Watford Borough Council will apply for the area too be bought within the Borough boundary”
On the map is a red oblong. It represesnts a depression in the North-east corner of the golf course. For a youngster roaming the field it had the irresistible attraction of having a periscope. Invariably peep through would show an empty area of green. logic dicates thre were golfers on the course they would have likely shooed away the youngster. The year was 1937 and the periscope couldnot see into the future
The Inquiry provided two particularly bright highlights.
The first was when Mr J.P.S. Davey, who, as secretary of the Watford Trades Council, represents 10,000 Watford workers, threw himself on the side of the L.C.C., declaring that the opponents of the scheme did not really object to the development of the estate, but to the fact that the site would be used to build working-class houses for working-class people.
The second highlight was the dramatic intervention of Colonel Spiers, one of the estate trustees, just as the Inquiry was closing, to announce that, should the Minister refuse to confirm the L.C.C.’s Order, and the trustees at some future time decide to develop the estate, one year’s notice of such an intention would be given, in order to provide the Watford Corporation with an opportunity of scheduling the estate as an area to be preserved as an open space.