The Liberal Democrat Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor has launched a petition calling on changes to government planning laws. The Mayor wants to see the government give councils more powers to reject inappropriate development as well as the powers to insist on improved infrastructure, such as new schools, doctors surgeries and improvements to public transport.
The Mayor also wants to see an end to the controversial rule of Permitted Development, where office blocks and other industrial buildings can be converted into housing without planning permission. This is the rule that led to the government given approval for windowless flats at Wellstones in the town centre, despite the council rejecting the scheme.
The Conservative government have tripled Watford’s housing targets, targeting the area to help it deliver its commitment made at this election to building 300,000 new homes a year.
A spokesperson for the government said recently that it is "not an option" for Watford to refuse planning proposals.
Liberal Democrat Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor, ‘We are in the midst of a housing crisis, with more and more people in our town being locked out of the housing market, so we do need to build more homes in Watford. However, we must have more power as a council to say no development that is not appropriate for our town. The government have tripled our housing targets and have told us we can’t say no to new development, even if it will impact on our roads, our schools, our public transport and our doctor’s surgeries.
'We should be able to decide what is best for Watford, rather than be dictated to by the Conservative government. We need decent homes that people can afford and provide people with a good quality of life. We need to have the powers to reject substandard developments and insist on better infrastructure, as well as change targets that are unrealistic for our town. The government must give powers back to local councils so they can decide what is best for their communities.’
We the undersigned recognise the need for new homes but call on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to:
- More power for local communities: give councils more power to reject inappropriate development.
- Cut targets: reduce unfair, unrealistic and arbitrary housing targets from central government.
- Decent homes for everyone: scrap Permitted Development rules that results in business space being lost, poor quality homes and no funding for local services.
- Infrastructure first: make it possible for councils to insist on improvements to infrastructure before new developments.
- Homes people can afford: change the government's viability rules so that developers have to provide enough affordable and social homes.