Harlequin Shopping Centre

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Intu Watford
Location Watford, UK
Coordinates 51°39′19″N 0°23′39″W / 51.65528°N 0.39417°W / 51.65528; -0.39417Coordinates: 51°39′19″N 0°23′39″W / 51.65528°N 0.39417°W / 51.65528; -0.39417
Opening date June 1992
Developer Intu Properties
Management Michael Stevens
Owner (93%) Intu Properties, (7%) Watford Borough Council
Architect Chapman Taylor Partners[1]
No. of stores and services Over 145
Total retail floor area 67,500 sq m
Parking 2050 + 3000 (Watford Council) in Watford
No. of floors 7 (inc. Parking)
Website www.intu.co.uk/watford

The Harlequin Shopping Centre, known in branding as Intu Watford, is the largest shopping centre in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, and is visited by over 17 million customers each year. It was built as a rival to Brent Cross and opened in 1992.

The centre contains a number of retailers, including Apple, John Lewis, BHS, Marks & Spencer, Zara, and Next.

The building is a glass roofed structure, with symmetrical malls. A gallery on the third floor exhibits the work of local artists. An adjoining shopping centre, Charter Place, was bought by Intu Properties in April 2013 and the combined centres will be refurbished.


The former Harlequin logo
The Open Plan Mall of the Harlequin
The shopping centre entrance

The 1962 estimate was £3 million to include a ten-pin bowling alley and 130 flats, and this rose to £130 million when the plans were presented in 1986.

The Sainsbury's store on Queen's Road was bought and demolished (1983) to create space for the centre and a warehouse. During the development of the centre, listed high street buildings were renovated and Queen's Road was maintained as a pedestrian cross route through the town.

Councillors wanted a swimming element in the complex ‘to retain life in the evenings’ but the developers decided that swimming and shopping would not mix. The Council settled for building the Watford Springs swimming and leisure centre on the site of the former Benskins Brewery on the High Street. After eleven years, the leisure centre was knocked down, costing around £12 million in total.

The centre was rebranded as "intu Watford" in 2013 following the renaming of parent Capital Shopping Centres as Intu Properties.[2]

Intu Properties purchased the adjoining Charter Place shopping centre from Watford Borough Council in April 2013.[3] The company announced plans to integrate Charter Place into the main Intu Watford centre, and include a multi-screen cinema, restaurants and larger shops in the development.[4]



The centre is closely served by Watford High Street station (London Overground) and is about 10 minutes walk from Watford Junction (National Rail and London Overground). Completion of the Croxley Rail Link will see both stations also served by the Metropolitan line of the London Underground.


There are many bus stops in the town centre which serve Intu Watford.


The Watford Ring Road circles the shopping centre providing access for cars to the car parks. Watford Council extended a resident parking permit scheme in 1996 to deal with the parking congestion that had arisen since the opening of the Centre.[5] There are many cycle paths in Watford, and some go through the town. There are bike sheds in the town centre.


  1. ^ Phillips, Derek (2013). "Case study 45: Harlequin Shopping Centre, Watford". Lighting Modern Buildings. Routledge. p. 192. ISBN 9781136387302. 
  2. ^ Wright, Mike (25 February 2013). "Harlequin Centre rebrand begins". Watford Observer. Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "Intu exchanges on Charter Place shopping centre". Watford Borough Council. 24 April 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  4. ^ Wright, Mike (1 November 2013). "New IMAX cinema planned for Watford as part of Charter Place revamp". Watford Observer. Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  5. ^ Hayes-Griffin, J.; Collis, H. (1998). "Decriminalised parking in Watford". Highways and transportation 45 (5): 17–20. ISSN 0265-6868. 

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