Liberal Democrat Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, has written to the Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government demanding the government reconsider how they set targets for local authorities to deliver housing.
Following the recent by-election in Chesham and Amersham that returned a Liberal Democrat MP for the first time in the seat’s history, the government is under pressure to change their planning policies which will take away the power of local councils and communities to decide if new developments are acceptable.
The housing target formula for local authorities looks at house prices and average salaries of people living in the area. This means that if house prices are high in comparison to annual salaries more homes will be built in an effort to bring down house prices. However, it does not consider the actual space available in an area.
Watford, as one of the smallest local authorities (8 square miles), has a housing target of delivering 787 new homes per year. By contrast, neighbouring Hertsmere’s target is 716 new homes but they are a local authority area covering 39 square miles – almost 5 times the size of Watford.
Watford Liberal Democrats are calling on a review of how the housing targets are calculated to make sure that the targets are more achievable and realistic for each local area.
Liberal Democrat Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, said “Development is a really big issue for people all across Watford and, like them, I despair at more high rise properties being forced upon the town in an attempt to meet the government’s arbitrary housing targets.
“For a town such as Watford that is a relatively small size and already quite built up we are doing all we can to protect the green spaces we have. But the government continue to push for more housebuilding, telling us we need to ‘build, build, build’. They take no account of how built up we already are and how little space is available. To deliver the development that the government are demanding we will have to build upwards. I don’t want to see that and I’m sure many people in Watford don’t either.
“I would urge anyone who wants to cut the Conservative’s unfair housing target for Watford to sign our petition.”
- Full text of the letter sent to the Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, here.
- Watford Liberal Democrats petition ‘Cut the Tory targets’ here: https://www.watfordlibdems.org/cuttorytargets