Your editorial (May 22) says Watford Borough Council should “take a leaf out of the book” of Hertsmere Borough Council by introducing policies to control office to residential conversions in employment areas.

So you may be surprised to know that we had such a policy in place before Hertsmere recently adopted theirs. Indeed Watford was one of the first councils in the country to do this. In 2013, we brought in a restriction for the Clarendon Road employment area, followed last year by protection for the town’s main industrial and business parks. Hertsmere’s website even credits Watford as a council that already has a similar policy. But no council can apply this policy across their whole area.

The problem is that this doesn’t absolve us from meeting the Government’s target of building nearly 800 homes a year in Watford’s eight square miles. For comparison, Hertsmere has a rather lower target despite covering an area five times the size of Watford.

This is because the Government wants to concentrate development in existing built up areas through high density development in locations close to railway stations and town centres. It backs this up with punitive sanctions against councils that fail to meet their target. By contrast, rural areas are being let off more lightly.

The policy to protect employment areas is just one example of how Watford is using such powers as it has to protect the character of the town and support jobs and the local economy.

But the answer to the problem of overdevelopment is a more flexible and balanced approach by the Conservative Government to meeting the country’s housing need – one that doesn’t place the heaviest burden on already densely populated areas like Watford.

Cllr Iain Sharpe (Liberal Democrat)

Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Development

Watford Borough Council