Getting planning permission in Watford in 2021 was harder than just about anywhere else in the UK, according to new data.

Just over half of the 218 major and minor planning applications decided by Watford Borough Council were approved – the second lowest proportion in the UK and lowest outside of London.

Figures compiled by the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government show the council considered 206 minor planning applications and 12 major ones in 2021.

Following consideration by councillors or officers, 109 of the minor applications were granted along with nine that were major.

This totals 118, which equates to an approval rate of 54.13 per cent.

Watford Observer: Watford town hall, home of Watford Borough CouncilWatford town hall, home of Watford Borough Council

The numbers revealed only Croydon in south London had a lower approval rate than Watford with 52.6 per cent.

The next area outside of London – and behind Watford - where planning permission was hardest to secure in 2021 was in Basildon in Essex with 59.81 per cent of applications approved.

Some local authorities had approval rates of over 90 per cent.

Watford Observer: Credit: Townscape Architects (London boroughs not included in this graphic)Credit: Townscape Architects (London boroughs not included in this graphic)

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Watford Observer: An example of a scheme of 261 flats in Exchange House that was rejected by the council in 2021. Credit: Exchange Road LtdAn example of a scheme of 261 flats in Exchange House that was rejected by the council in 2021. Credit: Exchange Road Ltd

The proportion of applications approved in 2021 in Three Rivers District was 68.64 per cent while it was 72.41 per cent in St Albans, 79.37 per cent in Dacorum, and 83.15 per cent in Hertsmere.

The Government data for the 322 local authorities and national parks was analysed by Townscape Architects, enabling the firm to work out which areas were easiest and hardest to get permission.

Watford Observer: Credit: Townscape Architects. (London boroughs not included)Credit: Townscape Architects. (London boroughs not included)

Nick Silcock, director at Townscape Architects, said: “Across the UK, each borough and council has its own set of development goals and laws. Being fully aware of your local parameters can set you off on the best foot. 

“It is important to consider your surroundings, including letting your neighbours know of the proposed plans. Considering the area in which you live can also play a large part in receiving approval.

“Being realistic with the designs and informed about your local planning laws is the best and most simple way to get planning permission approved.”

Applications can range from housing developments of all sorts of sizes, conversions and extensions to homes, and change of use of a property.