A council claims it is being targeted by the Government to approve more and more planning applications because of the amount of brownfield land it has.

Watford Borough Council says it has “limited scope” to turn down applications that sit in previously developed brownfield land, which covers most of the town.

According to the Conservative manifesto, the Government aim to hit its target of 300,000 homes a year by prioritising brownfield development.

The council believe its housing targets have been tripled by the Government as a result.

Earlier this month a spokesperson from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said “it is not an option” for Watford Council to reject planning applications, saying it had a role to play in helping “meet the need for new homes”.

Recently the council revealed that during 2019 the Government overruled its decision 15 times to reject a planning application, while more than half are awaiting a decision.

Now, Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor has launched a petition calling on the Government for councils to be given more planning powers.

He said he wants councils to be able to reject “inappropriate” developments as well as given 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 Permitted Development, where office blocks and other industrial buildings can be converted into housing without planning permission.

This rule meant that windowless flats at Wellstones in the town centre were able to be given approval, despite being rejected by the council.

Mr Taylor said: “We must 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.”

The Mayor added there was a national housing crisis and felt people knew there was a need for some new homes.

But he said the council must have the power to stop developments that are “not appropriate for the town".

He added: “We need to have the powers to reject substandard developments and insist on better infrastructure, as well as change housing targets that are unrealistic for our town.

“The government must give powers back to local councils so they can decide what is best for our communities.”

To sign the petition click here