Do want the mini-Manhattan planned for Watford by the Lib Dem council?
This is what the Lib Dems envisage: from the High Street, down Clarendon Road around the Junction station and along St Albans Road.
A mixture of offices and high-rise flats, this will change the character of Watford forever.
Watford will end up as Greater London urban centre like Croydon or Wembley.
Yet when anyone tries to hold them to account for their planning decisions, they just say it isn’t our fault it is ‘government targets’. But residents are increasingly realising that the Lib Dem councillors are just using this as a ‘get out of jail free card’ to cover-up their poor planning decisions – decisions they are taking locally.
Let’s look at the facts.
Firstly there are no targets for building offices. That is up to the local council and their policy is made clear in the Borough’s Housing Strategy document:
The Lib Dems say: “Watford needs more large office development”.
That is the Lib Dem plan for the area around the Junction Station. They see themselves in competition with Dacorum and Milton Keynes and are trying to build more offices to keep up!
Secondly, no-one disputes that new housing is necessary. Good new affordable housing would be good for local people. We’re not campaigning against development – we’re campaigning against the over-development being undertaken by the Lib Dem Council.
The reality is that nobody says Councils should build 28 storey-tower blocks – that was a decision taken by Lib Dem councillors here in Watford.
The problem is they have no up-to-date local plan and their planning process is in disarray which means they have fallen behind. These two issues make them vulnerable to planning appeals. Their response has been a panicked headlong rush into a strategy to build high-rises.
And it is worth remembering when considering the Lib Dem position on housing: they think too few houses are being built. This is Lib Dem policy on housing:
The Lib Dems say: “We need to build 300,000 homes per year just to meet current demand, but are barely building half that amount.”
And finally we all know how the Lib Dem Mayor loves a photo-opportunity next to something in the town. Well, is one of the reasons the Lib Dems want new offices and are authorising new high-rises because they are pleased to receive the money the Council receives for local projects from the developers? Between 2015-19 they raised £2.7 million pounds. In 2019-20 they received a further £3.2 million. That’s a lot of money for vanity projects and photo-opportunities. It is shame the real cost is to change Watford forever.