How Watford could be developed over the next 15 years took an important step last night.

Watford Borough Council's Cabinet agreed to approve the submission of the council's final draft Local Plan to the Secretary of State.

The draft does still needs to clear full council but this is expected to be a formality.

The local plan is a huge document that has been put together by planning officers. It is brimming with planning policies and perhaps most notably, sites across Watford that will help meet housing targets.

At last night's Cabinet meeting, the town's mayor Peter Taylor, introduced the local plan item, saying: "As we all know, development is a very big issue in Watford for many of our residents.

"We’ve made it very clear we have huge concerns about the targets that have been set by central government which take no account of the land availability in this town.

"We have raised our concerns with the government and the local plan is our response to the context which we find ourselves."

Mr Taylor then allowed the council's portfolio holder for planning, Cllr Stephen Johnson, to go into more detail about the plan.

Cllr Johnson said the document had been "seven years in preparation".

Although Cllr Johnson mentioned that some may view Watford's housing targets as "unrealistic" or even "impossible", he said it was "important" the council has an adopted local plan, because it means the council can address housing and infrastructure "on its own terms" rather than leaving it to "market forces".

He added: "Without one (local plan) as a brownfield authority – that’s what we are – we will still be forced to accept development but we will have little or no say on how this development comes forward, where it is located, or how it looks like. How it’s addressed climate change and all the other things that are so important to the community.

"Without a local plan, we cannot move forward."

He also warned targets would "just be pushed through by planning inspectors at great expense to the public purse" if the council "just says no" to the housing targets.

Just under 800 homes a year have been set for Watford up until 2037 by the Government.

The final draft of the local plan will be discussed at a full council meeting on July 19. If it is passed, council officers intend to submit the plan to the Secretary of State soon after for examination, with adoption expected by the end of next summer.