The mayor of Watford says building new homes near good public transport links is "important" as a leading land agent calls on councils to allow development near railway stations.

Aston Mead Land & Planning believe creating housing communities near stations will take away the pressure away from town centres.

Planning director Adam Hesse said: "As I travel around the country by train, I see dozens of examples of large areas of land next to railway stations, which are currently taken up by light industry such as builders’ merchants, often extending to several acres each.

"Presumably the existence of these sites goes back to the days when trains delivered coal and building materials, so the yards had to be close by.

"But nowadays they would be ideal locations for hundreds of new high-rise residential units, which would be perfect for commuters."

Watford Observer:

Adam Hesse

In Watford, development near Watford Junction is favoured.

The Watford Junction masterplan includes a regeneration of the St Albans Road area which could see 3,000 homes built - proposals for around 1,200 homes on the site of The Range and TK Maxx is currently going through the planning process.

Mr Hesse added: "If local councils could harness the potential of these areas for residential development – buying them by compulsory purchase if necessary – and moving the current industrial units to the edge of town, then the heavy traffic and pollution associated with them would be kept away from the centre."

"The truth is that local councils are some of the largest landowners in the country. So they are in an excellent position to release land on the edge of a town to develop light industrial sites, which they could then let to the businesses which were previously next to the railway station.

"Commuters would flock to the new homes, while town centres would benefit from fewer delivery vehicles, because the light industrial units would be moved out of town, nearer main roads and motorway networks. It’s a win for everyone involved."

Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: "The government is putting big pressure on Watford to build more homes and so we are having to think hard about where these will go. Being close to good public transport is important, otherwise congestion in the town will get even worse.

"I am also doing all I can to improve public transport in Watford - improving Watford Junction, investing in on demand buses and bringing in a bike share scheme."