The mayor of Watford is to write to the Secretary of state for Housing, communities and Local Government expressing its "strong objections" to proposed planning reforms.

With a target of building 300,000 new homes a year in England, ministers want to overhaul the planning system, arguing reforms would boost the building of high-quality, sustainable homes, by streamlining the process and cutting red tape.

But critics, such as the Watford Labour party, believe the reforms will "limit" communities and residents from engaging in planning decisions.

At a full Watford Borough Council meeting on Monday, the leader of the Labour group, Cllr Nigel Bell, proposed a motion which called for the town's Liberal Democrat mayor Peter Taylor to write to Robert Jenrick signalling the council's opposition.

Cllr Bell's motion was unanimously backed.

Councillor Nigel Bell, leader of the Watford Labour group

Councillor Nigel Bell, leader of the Watford Labour group

In his speech, the Holywell borough councillor said: "The Government claims that the act is being introduced to 'create a simpler, faster and more modern planning system with three new zonal systems to replace the current system of applying for planning permission.

"The Government’s solution to speeding up planning is to remove the right of local people and councillors from having a say at points in the planning process.

"I am all in favour of the right kind of residential development in our high street properties and some commercial buildings but we must have the proper powers of scrutiny and oversight to make sure they are well designed and have the proper standards of liveable conditions and amenity space.

"We must be able to retain these powers and ensure we have the proper mix of affordable housing and especially social rented units.

"We don’t want our residents to lose their rights to complain about the potential high rise developments at the end of their road."

Cllr Bell also used his speech as an opportunity to call for the town's Conservative MP Dean Russell to help fight these proposals.

Ahead of Monday's meeting, Mr Russell told the Observer: "Having spoken at length with housing ministers and in the Commons, I know that the intention is to not only strengthen environmental protections but to also create more affordable housing and more jobs.

"In addition, I have been very vocal on the need for communities to have more of a say in how tall planning developments can be in their local community. I have also made clear that the government cannot waver on its manifesto commitment to protect and enhance the Green Belt.

"Given the current system is decades old it can be slow, complex, and inaccessible. It is no surprise that less than 3 per cent of people engage with planning applications, given how difficult it can be to navigate.

"I am confident that these proposals will give locally elected councillors control over what to build and where, replacing jargon-laden and thousand-page documents with easy to navigate and succinct assessments."

Last month, Hertfordshire County Council agreed that Tory councillor Stephen Bolton should write to all MP's in the county to flag its concerns at proposed planning reforms.

This motion was separate to an item on the submission of Watford's Local Plan, which has sparked a political row after Mr Russell wrote to all councillors "just hours" before Monday's meeting accusing the council of failing to challenge Watford's housing targets within the plan.

Mr Russell's letter was not received well by both the Lib Dems and Labour, and Mr Taylor has since written to Mr Russell and described the contents of the MP's letter as "disingenuous".