Latest News from Mayor Peter Taylor

Watford Observer Column: Scrap Housing targets or we face more Tory Towers

4 Dec 2022

Sometimes targets are good. They allow people to focus and provide a sense of achievement. But some targets can make things worse. The government’s unfair housing targets are the best example of this and this week I called on the government to scrap them.

Conservative housing targets are unfair because places like Watford have huge targets that take no account of our local circumstances or the amount of land available. Conservative politicians argue that this is good because Watford is a brownfield area and we should build on brownfield first. But the reality is that if all the pressure is on places like Watford to build more, we will see taller buildings here and in similar places.

Brownfield land is in short supply, and because of this it is expensive. To make a profit, developers need to build higher and higher and make ownership unaffordable. If applications for towers are rejected by local councillors, the Government inspector often over-rules them. Our new Local Plan provides some protection but we are still vulnerable because of the unfair targets system and national planning rules. Unless housing targets are scrapped, we face more and more Tory towers.

These targets are causing harm to Watford and they take away the power of local people to decide what is best for our town. Some Conservative MPs agreed that these unfair targets need to go. Sadly, the MP for Watford was not prepared to join those of us saying that the unfair national system must change.

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