A vital planning document outlining where thousands of homes are likely to be built across Watford over the next 15 years has been approved.

Watford Borough Council’s local plan identifies 61 sites that have been deemed appropriate to meet housing targets of just over 13,000 up until 2038.

After passing the scrutiny of a Government planning inspector, the council’s ruling Liberal Democrat members gave the green light to adopt the new plan at a meeting on Monday.

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Watford mayor Peter Taylor says the plan will give the council “more power to reject inappropriate development and have homes that are affordable” as well as “more say over the future of the town”.

He added: “In an imperfect planning system, it is the best way for our town to meet the challenges we face.”

Watford Observer: Watford town hall, home of Watford Borough Council. Image: Watford Borough CouncilWatford town hall, home of Watford Borough Council. Image: Watford Borough Council (Image: Watford Borough Council)

The plan, which covers the period from 2021 to 2038 and has been five years in the making, identifies three areas of Watford that will likely undergo huge redevelopment.

This includes an area known as ‘Watford Gateway’ - by Watford Junction train station, the town centre, as well as Colne Valley, which covers land near the hospital and retail parks off Waterfields Way.

Further isolated sites around the town are also included and more not included in the list of 61 will likely need to be developed in order to meet targets, which even a planning inspector admitted in a report will be “challenging” due to Watford’s size.

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At Monday’s meeting, councillors claimed the plan will also promote new businesses and keep waterways clean.

Lib Dem member Glen Saffery added: “This plan will not only protect but accentuate our cultural and heritage facilities.

“We will keep the thriving High Street as the lynchpin of our community, and support our hospital’s business case for the refurbishment and expansion we know it so desperately needs.”

He urged members to accept that change is "natural and inevitable” but said after nearly 35 years growing up and living in Watford, the town’s “heart and soul has not changed”.

The opposition Labour group abstained from voting to approve the local plan. The party said council leaders will need to prove the plan has enough “teeth” to prevent developers from going ahead with unpopular proposals.

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