Updated plans for a new sports village that is intended to replace a Hindu temple have been submitted.

Campaigners have feared that the Vel Murugan Temple, currently based in Woodside Playing Field’s former bowls club, could close after it neared the end of its lease and was told to vacate the building by September 17.

Recently Watford Borough Council officially extended the temple’s lease until January 3, 2022, to help the temple find an alternative location.

Mayor Peter Taylor previously said that once the temple is able to move, the council can move on with their “exciting plans” to create “an outstanding new leisure and community destination in north Watford”.

Now, a new planning application has been put forward, outlining plans of the sports village that could come to Woodside Playing Fields.

It includes the provision of a new community sports hub building, a new cricket score box and new fencing.

The plan involves demolishing the current cricket pavilion used by Watford Town Cricket Club and replacing it with a new cricket building with a community hall.


A render of the new cricket pavilion

A render of the new cricket pavilion


There are also plans to refurbish existing buildings and facilities to create a new café, alongside new inclusive play areas to the south of the community café that would add facilities for toddler play and a sensory garden area.

Refurbished multi-sport changing rooms and additional accessible changing facilities for use by football clubs, cricket clubs, boxing clubs, referees and umpires are also proposed.

A further changing facility will also be provided in the cafe building for use by non-sporting visitors to Woodside.

Watford Amateur Boxing Club could enjoy improved facilities – including more space, a new main entrance and a second boxing ring.

There are also plans for a new car park at the site to accommodate an “anticipated uplift” in visitors, and it will be linked with a new pedestrian route to the sports village.

Plans are in place for a communal terrace areas between existing buildings and the pavilion cricket pitch, with potential for it to be used for outdoor events space, as well as café terrace and mobile facilities for refreshment, merchandising and play.


An overhead render of the new sports hub

An overhead render of the new sports hub


Currently the temple, occupies the former bowls club at Woodside Playing Fields, and it still has not found a new site.

Prashanth Elangovan, a spokesperson for the temple and a Conservative council candidate for the Meriden ward, said he was “delighted” that an extension was granted, but fears it may only “postpone” the temple’s closure rather than save it.

However the mayor believes this extension will “allow time” for the appropriate discussions to take place.


An old render of the new play area How the play area could look (photo Watford Borough Council)

An old render of the new play area How the play area could look (photo Watford Borough Council)


Talking about both the temple and plans for the sports village, the mayor said: “Watford’s Hindu community is an important and valued part of our town’s vibrancy and diversity so I am pleased the Vel Murugan Trust has responded positively to my offer to engage with them to support their search for a permanent home for the Temple.

“To allow time for these discussions, we have offered the Trust a short-term lease on the Owls Bowls Club building to 3 January 2022.

“This will give them the opportunity to get their future plans in place and for us to take forward our exciting plans for Woodside, which will create an outstanding new leisure and community destination in north Watford.”