A candidate for Watford mayor has spoken out against the current borough council administration’s actions over a new tower block on Clarendon Road.
Former councillor and current Conservative mayoral candidate Binita Mehta-Parmar has accused Watford Borough Council (WBC) of not following through on its local plan and failing to reduce housing targets.
Speaking about the council, she said: “Having not published a Local Plan for years, when they finally did get round to it they voted through a plan which failed to challenge or even mention housing targets, implicitly thereby accepting them.”
Mrs Mehta-Parmar has accused WBC of locking Watford’s housing targets to an “unnecessarily” high level by voting through its Local Plan.
She also said: “It is the Lib Dem Council that gave approval to the towers planned north of Watford Junction– locally referred to as Taylor’s Towers– despite using their power to reject developments elsewhere where they sit as local ward councillors.
“They approve new office tower blocks around Clarendon Road, without hesitation – and there are no government targets to blame for these.”
In response to Mrs Mehta-Parmar’s comments, Cllr Stephen Johnson, Portfolio Holder for Property, Housing and Planning, had this to say.
“However much the Conservative candidate for Mayor tries to spin this the facts are pretty straightforward. The Conservative government has tripled Watford’s housing target. They have attacked us for not building enough and taken power away from Watford Council to punish us for this.
“The Conservative MP for Watford has failed to convince Conservative ministers to cut Watford’s unfair housing target. Mayor Peter Taylor has repeatedly pressed ministers to cut Watford’s target.
“The government are very clear about the role of Local Plans in all of this. Housing targets can only be reduced in exceptional circumstances; for example, if an area includes World Heritage Sites or areas of Special Scientific Interest.
“This does not apply to Watford. The Conservatives in Watford either don’t understand their own policies or are trying to mislead residents in the town.”
Plans for the new block were revealed last November and will include 168 flats as part of the project, as well as office space, a café and a gym. Prices of the one- and two-bedroom apartments are expected to start at around £275,000.
The redevelopment of the site should be completed around 2024, with 380 jobs being created by the project’s construction.
Photo Credit: Hoss Photography