The Former Liberal Democrat Mayor of Watford, Baroness Dorothy Thornhill MBE (pictured), has challenged the government in the House of Lords over pressure they are putting on councils under to build more homes in places like Watford.
Watford has seen its housing numbers tripled by central government, with the government targeting urban areas with brownfield land to help meet its target of delivering 300,000 new homes a year.
The government has told councils that they will have ‘no choice’ but to approve new developments.
Just this week, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick said he would find new ways of removing powers from councils who do not deliver on their inflated targets.
In her question to the government, Baroness Thornhill asked them whether they felt the ‘large scale tower blocks’ they were insisting on for towns like Watford would ‘impact on people’s quality of life’ and asked why councils were not given more powers to reject these.
Baroness Barran, replying on behalf of the government, said councils ‘must play their part’ in delivering on their increased housing numbers set by the government.
Baroness Thornhill said: “We need new housing but this should not come at the expense of infrastructure, affordable housing and a decent standard of home. The government are clear that they will stop at nothing in order to hit their massive annual housing targets. Local communities and local councils must have more say in this process and be able to turn down inappropriate development without fear of the being challenged by a government inspector.”
Liberal Democrat Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor (pictured) said: “Councils like Watford have never been under more pressure from the government to build more homes. It’s clear that the government are prepared to bulldoze over the concerns of people in Watford to deliver an unrealistic and inflated housing target.
“We do have a national housing crisis and need more homes but councils must be given more power to reject inappropriate development. We must be able to insist on better infrastructure, more affordable housing and good quality homes – so that we can get what is right for our town. The government’s targets for our town are simply not achievable or fair.”
The Mayor has already written to the Housing Minister about the pressure the town is under and has started a petition calling on the government to be given more powers to reject inappropriate development.
The petition can be signed here petertaylor-ldwatford.nationbuilder.com/government_must_give_council_powers_to_reject_inappropriate_development