“Can’t we just stop all this development?” is a question I am sometimes asked.

You will read in the pages of last week’s Watford Observer much concern about this. People can see all around them that Watford is a town that is changing.

For some people that is unsettling. They fear losing a town they love, precious green spaces and having roads that are ever more congested and local services that struggle to cope.

The Government has tripled Watford’s housing targets. Government policy has established a target of building 300,000 new homes every year across the country. There is a particular emphasis on building on previously developed land within existing towns and cities.

Every council, including Watford, is obliged to plan for significant housing growth to help achieve the Government's targets for new homes. The Government has been clear that saying ‘no’ to new homes is simply not an option.

That’s why we’ve started work on our Local Plan, which plans for future housing in Watford. This plan is really important. A plan gives us more control, helps us protect our fantastic parks and green spaces and support our businesses.

Most importantly, it makes sure we get a range of different housing for everyone, from retirement accommodation to more council houses for local families who really need them the most.

Without a Local Plan, government inspectors would have the final say about development rather than local people. In a worst case scenario, the Government could even write the plan for us.

This means that they would make the decision about where new housing would go to 2036. This means that the local community would have even less of a say about how the town will grow and change in the future.

It is so important that we make sure these decisions about the future of our town are made here in Watford and not by anyone else.

There are no easy answers but your views in this process are key to getting this right. You can find out more about the Local Plan and fill our consultation via the website https://www.watfordlocalplan.co.uk/ or by going to one of our many drop in events happening across the town. The future of our town matters. Make sure you have your say!

  • Peter Taylor is Elected Mayor of Watford