First Draft Watford Local Plan 2020-2036

To take part in these consultations, you will first need to register as a user by clicking on the link at the top right of this page. Once you have registered, select a document, then comments can be given by clicking on the pen icon and writing in the form that appears. For further assistance please read our help guide.

 

Erratum: Draft site allocation H9 ‘Land adjacent to Callowland Allotments’ (page 48 of the printed consultation document) was considered as part of the Housing and Land Availability Assessment, however, it was determined that the site would not be progressed. The site has been included in error and will not be progressed beyond this consultation.

Chapter 4: Housing

4. 1. Introduction

4. 1. 1. Housing is a fundamental human right and the Local Plan seeks as far as possible to provide homes for all types of household needs. Watford has a Draft Housing Strategy (tbc, 2019) which seeks to ensure that: "Watford is a town where people can access a choice of affordable and good quality homes in neighbourhoods that are thriving, attractive and inclusive places to live and enable residents to build sustainable, safe and healthy communities."

4. 1. 2. Specific priorities in the Draft Housing Strategy will relate to the delivery of homes, making the best use of existing homes, preventing homelessness, building sustainable neighbourhoods and communities, while ensuring quality, choice and affordability.

4. 1. 3. Specific needs are also an important priority and the Local Plan will seek to support the key priorities in the Housing Strategy by establishing specific policies including for housing delivery, affordable housing (which is an acute issue in the region), housing mix and specialist housing.

4. 1. 4. The housing policies have been informed by the Draft Local Housing Needs Assessment (tbc, 2019) which identified objectively assessed needs. The Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment has identified the borough's capacity (sites identified as deliverable or developable) for meeting housing need (between 7,000 and 8,000[14] units over the period of the plan) with unmet need to be dealt with through the Duty to Cooperate.

4. 1. 5. The Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment envisages that the majority of units will be delivered in the High Sustainability Zone of the town where the highest densities will be appropriate. This means that to ensure a good mix of homes, including affordable homes, a proportionate and balanced mix is required on all sites, including high density areas. This will help achieve mixed and equitable communities.

4. 2. Allocated Sites for Housing Delivery

Why is this policy needed?

4. 2. 1. Demographic pressures, decreasing household sizes, and unbalanced regional development on a national level creates significant demand for housing in Watford and the region generally. The borough's proximity to London (with high housing costs in the city pushing people out into the surrounding areas) has resulted in challenging housing targets over the plan period.

4. 2. 2. There is need to plan for these homes. The Watford Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment, which adopted a brownfield first approach, has carried out an exhaustive search of the borough. The administrative area of Watford has a capacity for providing between 7,000 and 8,000 units over the plan period, with current estimates indicating a 410 units per annum requirement[15].

4. 2. 3. This policy is required to allocate sites for residential development which were identified through the Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment. All sites identified are considered to be suitable, achievable and available.

What is the policy intended to do?

4. 2. 4. The policy allocates sites for housing development within the borough, it also identifies mixed use sites which have a residential component. These sites are identified on the Policies Map. The policy is applicable to those sites identified in Figure 6 which includes the following information:

  • Site Name and Map
  • Site Size
  • Sustainability Zone the site is within (this will determine the density and car parking expectation on site[16])
  • Timescales
  • Key development considerations and designations

4. 2. 5. Indicative yields are not provided for these sites. The starting point for all proposals will be the Sustainability Zone the site is located within. Once the broad density parameters and expected car parking on site are identified, the site should then be designed with regard to the specific site constraints. This will determine the final yield of the site.

4. 2. 6. The development considerations detailed are not exhaustive but seek to aid scheme design by identifying key constraints and considerations bespoke to specific sites. All allocated housing sites have a presumption in favour of residential development on principle. However, all proposals need to comply with the full suite of policies in the Local Plan.

Policy H4.1 Allocated Housing Sites for Delivery

The sites listed in Table 4.1, as shown on the Policies Map, are allocated for housing (Use Class C3) or mixed-use development including housing and other specified uses. Planning permission will be granted for proposals that:

  1. Accord with the policies in the Local Plan;
  2. Address the key development considerations for each site;
  3. Comply with the Sustainability Zones as the basis for density and parking in line with parking requirements.

4. 3. Figure 6: Site Specific Development Parameters and Considerations

Sustainability Zone

Density Range (dph)

Parking Standards (space per unit)

High Sustainability

95+[17]

0.0 – 0.3

Medium Sustainability

55-95

0-3 - 0.6

Low Sustainability

45-70

0-6 - 1.5

Site

Size

Sustainability Zone

Timescale

Key Development Considerations/ Designations

H1 Land and Garages at Lych Gate

0.1 ha

Low

0-5 years

Access to remaining garages needs to be retained

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land

H2 Land and Buildings at 275 Sheepcot Lane

0.35 ha

Low

0-5 years

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land


H3 Land and Garages Adjacent to 1 Lavinia Avenue

0.083 ha

Low

6-15 years

Garston Bus Garage and Garston Park Parade opposite the site are locally listed buildings

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land

H4 Land and Buildings at 5 Sheepcot Drive

0.17 ha

Low

0-5 years

No specific designations nearby

H5 Land at The Badger Public House

0.15 ha

Low

0-5 years

Low risk of surface water flooding on site

H6 Land and Garages adjacent to 1-7 Heronslea

0.1

Medium

6-15 years

Proposals will need to contribute to the wider objectives of Dome Roundabout Strategic Development Area

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land


H7 Land at the Former Meriden School

1.7

Medium

0-5 Years

Proposals will need to comply with the wider objectives of Dome Roundabout Strategic Development Area

Former Odhams Press Hall opposite the site is a locally listed building

Low risk of surface water flooding on site

H8 Land at the Former Bill Everett Community Centre

1.07

Low

0-5 Years

Harebreaks Wood Local Nature Reserve is located immediately south of the site.

Clear connections and desire lines need to be established with the existing residential area to the north

Low risk of surface water flooding on site

H9 Land adjacent to Callowland Allotments

0.3

Low

0-5 Years

Callowland Allotments are located immediately north of the site

Medium risk of surface water flooding on site


H10 Land at the Longspring Car Park

0.27

Medium

0-5 Years

A level of car parking for the local shopping parade needs to be retained

91-111 Longspring to the north of the site are Locally Listed Buildings

Medium risk of surface water flooding on site

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land

H11 Land at 420 and 420a St Albans Road

0.11

Medium

6-15 Years

91-111 Longspring to the north of the site are Locally Listed Buildings

Medium to high risk of surface water flooding on site

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land

H12 Land to the rear of 53 Langley Way

0.09

Medium

6-15 Years

Bespoke design solution required in terms of how any new development relates to the rear of the shopping parade

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land


H13 16-18 St Albans Road

0.24

High

0-5 years

'Car lite' development supported in this location

Nascot Conservation Area is located opposite the site

High risk of surface water flooding on site

Clear connection to cycle and pedestrian routes required.

H14 Land and Garages between 139-149 Queens Road

0.05

High

0-5 years

Site is located in the Estcourt Conversation Area

Located adjacent to a main train line therefore noise assessment may be required

High risk of surface water flooding on site

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land


H15 Land to the Rear of 125-127 the Parade

0.26

High

0-5 Years

Any proposals need to comply with the objectives of Town Centre Strategic Development Area

Elm Court adjacent to the site is a Locally Listed Building

Civic Core Conservation Area is located immediately adjacent to the site

There are a number of nationally and locally listed buildings to the south and west of the site.

H16 Land at the Corner of Park Avenue and Rickmansworth Road

0.096

High

0-5 years

Cassiobury Registered Park is located opposite the site

A number of locally listed buildings are located on Cassiobury Park Avenue

H17 Land at 80 Cassio Road

0.077

High

6-15 years

Noise associated with the road network needs to be assessed

Amenity pollution designation nearby includes Vicarage Road air quality management area.


H18 Land and Buildings at 87 Cassio Road

0.1

High

0-5 years

Noise associated with the road network needs to be assessed

Amenity pollution designation nearby includes Vicarage Road air quality management area

H19 Land and Buildings at 120-122 Exchange Road

0.05

High

6-15 years

Noise associated with the road network needs to be assessed

H20 Land at Lower Derby Road

0.27

High

0-5 years

Landscaping and ground floor treatment will be important in this location

Located adjacent to a main train line therefore noise assessment may be required

H21 Land and Buildings at 176-186 Rickmansworth Road

0.15

Medium

6-15 years

195-199 Rickmansworth Road to the south of the site is a Locally Listed Building

Low risk of surface water flooding on site

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land


H22 Cark Park at Junction of Vicarage Road and Exchange Road

0.05

High

6-15 years

The Former Watford County Court to the south of the site is a Nationally Listed Building

Pedestrian movement to and from the site including safe access needs to be established.

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land

H23 Crown Passage Car Park

0.095

High

0-5 years

The site is located in the High Street and Kings Street Conservation Area

There are a number of nationally and located listed buildings adjacent to the site.


H24 Land at Waterfields Retail Park

1.88

High

6-15 years

Proposals will need to comply with the wider objectives for Lower Street Strategic Development Area

The eastern boundary verges on a Flood Zone 2 and if a climate change allowance is included, this changes to Flood Zone 3

Low risk of surface water flooding on site

There are a number of Tree Preservation Orders along the eastern boundary of the site

The cycle and walking path needs to be retained with a clear connection to the path required.

H25 Land at 18 Watford Field Road

0.11

High

0-5 years

202 and 202a Lower High Street, and the Former Brewery Building located north of the site are Nationally Listed Buildings

Low risk of surface water flooding on site

H26 Land between 41-61 Brightwell Road

0.05

High

0-5 years

Low risk of surface water flooding on site

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land


H27 Land and Garages to the Rear of 5-17 Liverpool Road

0.18

High

0-5 years

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land

H28 Land and Garages to the rear of 2-24 Elfrida Road

0.08

High

0-5 years

Located adjacent to a main train line therefore noise assessment may be required

Low to medium risk of surface water flooding

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land

H29 Land and Buildings at 247 Lower High Street

0.14

High

0-5 years

Entire Site is located in Flood Zone 3 therefore an Exception Test is required.

Brookland, located east of the site, is a Locally Listed Building

Low risk of surface water flooding

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land


H30 Land at Croxley View

3.2

Medium

0-5 years

Retention of cycle and walking route required as part of design

Low to medium risk of surface water flooding on site

H31 Land at Wiggenhall Road Depot

1.5

High

6-15 years

Wiggenhall Depot buildings are Locally Listed buildings located on site.

A section to the north of the site is located in Flood Zone 2 and if a climate change allowances in enabled this section is in Flood Zone 3 therefore an Exception Test is required

Medium risk of surface water flooding

Preliminary Risk Assessment/ Site Investigation required

H32 41 Aldenham Road

0.047

High

0-5 years

Bushey Baptist Church at the south of the site is a Locally Listed Building

Amenity pollution designation nearby includes Pinner Road air quality management area


H33 Land at the Car Park, Chalk Hill

0.04

High

0-5 years

Bushey Arches Railway Viaduct, located opposite the site, is a Nationally Listed Building

Pill Box, located opposite the site, is a Locally Listed Building

Located adjacent to a main train line – therefore noise assessment and mitigation required

Medium risk of surface water flooding on site

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land

Amenity pollution designation nearby includes Pinner Road air quality management area


H34 Land at Car Park adjacent to 1 Chalk Hill

0.098

High

0-5 years

Will need to retain a level of car parking for the local shopping parade

Bushey Arches Railway Viaduct located to the north west of the site is a Nationally Listed Building

Pill Box Viaduct located to the north west of the site is a Locally Listed Building

Located adjacent to a main train line – therefore noise assessment may be required

High risk of surface water flooding on site

Amenity pollution designation nearby includes Pinner Road air quality management area


H35 Land at Bushey Station

High

0-5 Years

'Car lite' development supported

Amenity pollution designation nearby includes Pinner Road air quality management area

Heritage assets adjacent including Bushey Station Locally Listed Building and Oxhey Conservation Area

A noise assessment and mitigation required which includes noise from rail network

Medium risk of surface water flooding on site

H36 Land at Kingsfield Court Garages

0.06

High

0-5 years

Located adjacent to a main train line therefore noise assessment and mitigation are required

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land


H37 Land and Garages at Riverside Road Garages

0.1

Medium

0-5 years

The site is located in Flood Zone 2 and if a climate change allowance is enabled, the entire site is covered in Flood Zone 3 therefore an Exception Test is required

Medium risk of surface water flooding on the site boundary

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land

MXD01 Land at Woodside Community Centre

0.2

Low

6-15 years

Retention or reprovision of community centre required

Significant level change to the south of the site

MXD02 Land 453 St. Albans Road

0.3

Medium

0-5 years

Proposals will need to comply with the wider objectives the Dome Roundabout Strategic Development Area

The North Watford Library opposite the site is a locally Listed Building

High risk of surface water flooding on site


MXD03 Land at the Lemaire Centre

0.096

Medium

0-5 years

Proposals will need to comply with the wider objectives for the Dome Roundabout Strategic Development Area

The North Watford Library adjacent to the site is a Locally Listed Building

Low risk of surface water flooding on site

MXD04 Land at 501 St. Albans Road

0.21

Medium

0-5 years

Proposals will need to comply with the wider objectives for the Dome Roundabout Strategic Development Area

Medium risk of surface water flooding on site

The North Watford Library opposite the site is a locally Listed Building


MXD05 Land at 94-114 St. Albans Road

2.47

Medium (High Density is justified for this site conditional on school provision)

0-5 years

Proposals will need to comply with the wider objectives for Watford Junction Strategic Development Area

School provision required for this site.

Nascot Conservation Area is located opposite

Locally listed buildings located to the north and west of the site

Located adjacent to a main train line therefore noise assessment and mitigation are required

High risk of surface water flooding on site


MXD06 Land at Watford Junction

8.6

High

0-15 years

Proposals will need to comply with the wider objectives for Watford Junction Strategic Development Area

Development is confined to areas not required for railway operations, although station redevelopment is an objective

Nascot Conservation Area is located opposite

Estcourt Road Conservation area is located directly south of the site

Located adjacent to a main train line therefore a noise assessment may be required

Concrete Batching Plant is a source of noise nuisance and therefore a noise assessment is required

High risk of surface water flooding on site

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land


MXD07 Land Colonial Way/Clive Way

1.98

Medium (High Density is justified for this site conditional on school provision)

0-15 years

The site will be a predominantly employment led, mixed used development

Medium risk of surface water flooding on site

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land

MXD08 Land at Centre Point Community Centre

0.13

High

0-5 years

Retention or reprovision of community centre required


MXD09 Land at the Telephone Exchange Car Park

0.23

High

0-5 years

Considered a residential led scheme, although an appropriate non-residential use is possible on the ground floor

58 High Street is a Nationally Listed Building located to the north east of the site

62-70 High Street, 48 High Street and 46 High Street are Locally Listed Buildings located north of the site

Proposals will need to comply with the wider objectives for Town Centre Strategic Development Area

Initial preliminary site investigation required to identify any contaminated land


MXD10 Land at Tesco Lower High Street

7.61

High

0-15 years

Proposals will need to comply with the wider objectives for Lower High Street Strategic Development Area

Considered a residential led scheme, although some reprovision of retail may be necessary and a primary school will need to be delivered on site

A section to the north of the site is located in Flood Zone 3b, and other sections of the site in Flood Zones 2 and 3. If a climate change allowance is enabled, then the majority of the site is in Flood Zone 3.

High risk of surface water flooding on site

Locally Listed Coal Duty Marker located on site

There are a number of Tree Protection Orders located at the north of the site


MXD11 44-56 Vicarage Road

0.13

High

6-15 years

Reprovision of commercial uses on the ground floor

The Square Conservation Area is located opposite

Amenity pollution designation nearby includes Vicarage Road air quality management area

Watford Printers is a Locally Listed Building located near to the site

MXD12 Land at Riverwell

5.36

High

0-5 years

Considered a residential led scheme, although a school and other appropriate non-residential uses are possible on site

The south of the site is located in Flood Zones 2 and 3 and if a climate change allowance is enabled, the south of the site is in Flood Zone 3

High risk of surface water flooding on part of site

MXD13 23-37 The Parade

0.41

High

0-5 Years

The locally listed shopfront needs to be retained as part of any proposals

Active commercial uses required on the ground floor as part Primary Shopping Frontage.

4. 4. Housing Mix

Why is this policy needed?

4. 4. 1. Housing need does not only relate to numbers. To meet housing need fully and appropriately the correct type, size and mix of housing is required. Achieving a good mix of housing on all sites is essential to create balanced communities and mixed, equitable neighbourhoods. The National Planning Policy Framework 2019 states that "the size, type and tenure of housing needed for different groups in the community should be assessed and reflected in planning policies (including, but not limited to, those who require affordable housing, families with children, older people, students, people with disabilities, service families, travellers, people who rent their homes and people wishing to commission or build their own homes)".

4. 4. 2. Over the past decade, there has been a significant oversupply of 1 and 2 bed units in Watford relative to the requirements identified in previous housing market assessments. This has resulted in an under provision of 3 bed units, which are most suitable for family homes. If these are not delivered it can negatively impact on the delivery of a proportionate mix of homes for both market and affordable housing. There is a need to ensure the overall mix on site is sufficient to meet the needs of different groups in the community.

4. 4. 3. A good housing mix is required to ensure indirect demand is not created for further urban sprawl. Should an under provision of 3 bed family units in urban areas continue, including in high density schemes, an undue demand for urban expansion will be created. This often results in low density housing profiles not conducive to sustainable development. In South West Hertfordshire, this low density type of development places increasing pressure on land designated as Green Belt. This is not an efficient or effective use of land. This policy is required to ensure that a more sustainable solution is pursued which includes the provision of a proportionate mix of homes on all sites. Although it is recognised that to achieve efficient densities, some areas of the borough will have a higher proportion of 1 and 2 bed units than others.

4. 4. 4. This policy is needed to provide clear guidance on the requirements for the housing mix expected across the different Sustainability Zones (as defined in the Policies Map) in the borough. This is to ensure the delivery of housing needs for different groups in the community.

What is the policy intended to do?

4. 4. 5. The policy sets out the housing mix required for all sites on a borough-wide basis. All sites will need to have a proportionate mix of housing. The starting point for housing mix is based on the Draft Local Housing Needs Assessment (tbc, 2019). It is clear that a good housing mix which reflects local need is required throughout Watford and the South West Hertfordshire area. Currently the Draft Local Housing Needs Assessment has identified the requirements set out in Figure 7.

4. 5. Figure 7: Housing Mix Needs (based on current occupancy trends) for Watford

1 bedroom

2 bedrooms

3 bedrooms

4+ bedrooms

Market Housing

7%

22-24%

47-49%

21-22%

Affordable Housing Ownership

35%

36-38%

21-22%

6-7%

Affordable Rent/ Social Rent

35-37%

26-27%

34%

4%

4. 5. 1. The Draft Local Housing Needs Assessment notes that current occupancy trends may change going into the future and that it is possible that provision of certain types of accommodation will influence the mix needed. It also states that "it is difficult to say to what extent the mix might move away from the modelled data but in making policy the Councils could make adjustments to the recommended mix to reflect any local issue and/or political aspirations as they seefit".

4. 5. 2. It should be noted that current occupancy patterns may not necessarily be the most effective measure to identify need into the future. This is particularly true if any current pattern or trend is an unsustainable trend. An example of this is noted in the Draft Local Housing Needs Assessment which states that "By using current occupancy patterns, account can be taken of the relationship between different groups and the housing they occupy (for example, older households who live in accommodation larger than they technically need)".

4. 5. 3. Moreover, the Draft Local Housing Needs Assessment notes that the majority of household growth for Watford is for homes with 1 and 2 dependent children. Accordingly, the housing mix requirement has been considered with this in mind (particularly the need for 2 and 3 bed homes rather than 4 beds). A proportionate mix requirement has been identified for the borough area which removes the need for 4 bed units and redistributes it across the other unit sizes.

4.6. Figure 8: Affordable Housing

4. 7. Figure 9: Housing Mix Needs (Redistribution Mix) for Watford Local Plan 2020 - 2036

Sustainability Zone

1 bedroom

2 bedrooms

3+ bedrooms

Market Housing

14%

29-31%

54-56%

Affordable Housing Ownership

37%

38-40%

23-25%

Affordable Rent/ Social Rent

36-38%

27-28%

35%

4. 7. 1. Housing mix is strongly related to the density of the site, therefore the housing mix requirements need to have regard to the density expectations across the borough which is an important locally specific issue. There is a recognition that, depending on the density requirements of an area, certain unit sizes may predominate in locations. In the Low Sustainability Zone of the borough, 3 bed units will predominate, while in the High Sustainability Zones, 1 and 2 bed units may predominate. However, predominate does not mean that a disproportional number of smaller units will be acceptable. No sites should have an excessive amount of particular unit size(s), as this creates unbalanced neighbourhoods.

Policy H4.2 Housing Mix

All proposals are required to provide a proportionate mix of home types and sizes. Proposals that achieve a well-balanced and proportionate mix of housing in line with the following mix requirements (total housing market and affordable housing) will be supported where they also comply with other relevant policies in the Local Plan.

In the High Sustainability Zone, 3 bed units should take the form of ground floor duplexes or maisonettes with each having its own ground floor access.

4. 8. Affordable Housing

Why is this policy needed?

4. 8. 1. This policy is required to achieve proportionate and deliverable affordable housing on all qualifying sites. There is an acute housing affordability issue in Watford and the South West Hertfordshire region. Currently, affordability ratios indicate approximately 12:5 ratio (income relative to buying/renting a property) based on the average income in Watford.

4. 8. 2. The policy is required to identify the specific types of affordable housing required. This includes affordable housing for sale (Low Cost Home Ownership) and affordable housing for rent (including social rent for those whose needs are not met by the market). This policy is also needed to help achieve the priorities of the Draft Housing Strategy (tbc, 2019) by ensuring that Watford is a town where people can access a choice of affordable and good quality homes.

What is the policy intended to do?

4. 8. 3. The policy establishes a 40% affordable housing requirement (in terms of habitable rooms) on all qualifying sites. The provision of affordable housing applies to all development of 10 residential units or more).

4. 8. 4. On all qualifying sites, 10% of the homes are expected to be for affordable home ownership as part of the overall affordable provision on site. The remaining affordable housing provision (40% of the total number of units) on site should be affordable housing for rent (social rent or affordable rent). The following figure illustrates the affordable housing requirement breakdown. All figures are based on a percentage of the total number of habitable rooms in a development.

4. 8. 5. Affordable housing provision is expected to be provided on site to ensure to the establishment of mixed and equitable communities.

Policy H4.3 Affordable Housing

All residential developments of 10 units or more will are required to deliver 40% affordable housing. Applications will be required to set out how they comply with the council's Housing Strategy. Proposals which achieve a well-balanced and proportionate mix of housing will be supported.

This number of affordable units will be based on number of habitable rooms in the scheme. How this will be provided in terms of unit sizes and tenures, including the prioritisation of family sized units where appropriate, will be determined based on the needs set out in the council's Housing Strategy, and subsequent amendments.

Proposals will be required to provide a mix of housing tenures in accordance with the following:

  1. 10% Affordable Home Ownership Products;
  2. 30% Affordable Housing for Rent consisting of;
    1. 50% Affordable Rent;
    2. 50% Social Rent.

Affordable housing should be provided on site. Only in cases where it can be clearly demonstrated that this is not possible through site constraints and that provision off-site would better achieve inclusive and mixed communities will a commuted sum be accepted in lieu of on-site provision.

A housing schedule is required for all qualifying sites which clearly details how the affordable housing requirement has been complied with in terms of habitable rooms (floor space and the number of rooms), units and tenures.

Where consideration of the financial viability of a development is relevant, the council will require the applicant to submit an 'open book' financial viability assessment. This assessment will be made publically available along with all other documents supporting the planning application.

4. 9. Redevelopment of Garage Sites

Why is this policy needed?

4. 9. 1. Small sites play a large role in housing delivery in Watford. When considering constraints related to land supply, small sites can help to maximise the urban capacity by maintaining a 'brownfield first' approach.

4. 9. 2. Garage sites, those intended to be used for parking or private storage, are often underutilised areas of land which may be better suited for alternate uses. The Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment identified numerous garage sites that were considered suitable for redevelopment although many were classed as windfall (less than five dwellings) or ruled out on availability constraints. The site allocations set out in the draft Local Plan therefore do not represent an exhaustive list of the garage sites that would be considered suitable for residential or economic development.

What is the policy intended to do?

4. 9. 3. The policy intends to implement a 'brownfield first' approach by encouraging the redevelopment of underutilised garage sites. This should support increased housing provision in the urban area and facilitate the development of windfall sites.

4. 9. 4. Redevelopment of garage sites should meet the relevant standards and guidelines proposed in the Revised Residential Design Guide (tbc, 2019), as amended. This should ensure that effective uses of land can be optimised using creative design where necessary.

Policy H4.4 Garage Site Development

There will be a presumption in favour of the redevelopment of garages sites, provided they comply with the relevant Development Management policies set out in the Local Plan.

4. 10. The ageing population

Why is this policy needed?

4. 10. 1. Reflecting national trends and those found in the South West Hertfordshire area, the proportion of the population in Watford aged 65+ years is anticipated to increase during the plan period from 13% in 2020 to 17% in 2036[18]. As people get older and progress into different stages of their lives, whether it be through changing family dynamics, migration, or the general ageing process, it is important to consider how new development can meet these needs.

4. 10. 2. As people get older, the choices they have, or make, vary across the population and can relate to practical and emotional choices related to things such as long term family connections, desire to downsize or move into supported accommodation, lifestyle aspirations or issues related to personal health. It is important that no matter how people progress through their lives, housing needs to be available to meet their changing needs.

4. 10. 3. Small homes can provide properties for older people to move into releasing properties for larger families. However, for people getting older an important consideration is related to quality of life. This is particularly important with people increasingly likely to experience a long term illness or disability. Nationally, this affects approximately 45% of people aged 65+ years[19] and 22% of the population overall. Therefore, an increasing number of homes need to be designed so they are adaptable and can be fitted to meet the needs of householders as they change over time.

Accessible and adaptable homes for an ageing population

4. 11. Adaptable dwellings

Why is this policy needed?

4. 11. 1. For people to live more independently and enjoy a good quality of life as they get older it is important they can live in places they are familiar with and connected to. Most existing homes are not easily adaptable and cannot cater for changing personal needs. This results in people moving into other homes that may not be ideal. If a proportion of new homes can be completed that are adaptable then this will contribute towards better accommodating an aging population and sustainable development.

4. 11. 2. The optional internal space standards are intended to deliver new homes that support a higher quality of living. Additionally, the Government introduced optional Building Regulation requirements that enables new homes to be designed to support better accessibility and adaptation. New residential developments will be required to provide a proportion of new homes that meet the standards set out in Part M4(2) and M4(3) set out in the Buildings Regulations (2013)[20], as amended.

4. 11. 3. Nationally, approximately 1.8% of the population requires the use of a wheelchair as part of their daily lives (NHS England, 2019). It is important that new homes are designed to support people requiring wheelchair access, however, with an ageing population and no policy requirements in place to deliver new dwellings with wheelchair access in the past, it is important to ensure new residential development meets this need in the wider context of making places in Watford more adaptable and accessible.

4. 12. People with dementia

Why is this policy needed?

4. 12. 1. Across the country dementia affects approximately 1.4% of the population and one in three people aged 65+ years[21]. In 2036, the number of people experiencing dementia is expected to increase to 2.2% of the population. Therefore, housing designed to support people with degenerative health issues such as dementia needs to be available. The policy sets out requirements to help meet this growing need. When calculating the number of dwellings required to comply with the policy where the requirement is less than one dwellings, one dwelling will be required to meet this standard.

4. 12. 2. Organisations such as Housing our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation and the Royal Town Planning Institute have provided guidance setting out important principles that should be designed into new residential developments to support people with dementia. Key principles to consider when designing new developments and individual homes for people with dementia are set out in Figure 10.

4. 13. Figure 10: Key principles of good design

Primary consideration

Secondary consideration

Generous internal space standards

Generous internal space standards and potential for three habitable rooms and flexible layouts

Natural light

Placement, size and detail of windows

Open plan layout

Apartments to have balconies or patios with space for tables, chairs and plants

Avoid single aspect dwellings

Avoid internal corridors

Avoid single aspect dwellings

Maximise natural light and ventilation

Care ready

Able to accommodate new technologies

Building layouts

Encourage people to circulate and interact in the building

Encourage natural surveillance of communal spaces

Avoid an 'institutional' feeling

Shared spaces

Spaces that can support social interaction

Relationship with the street and outdoor environment

Quality public realm

Internal layout of shared and private spaces

Energy efficient homes

Good insulation and ventilated to avoid overheating

Internal and external storage space

Location and height of storage spaces

Provision for mobility aids

Safe outdoor environment

Prioritising pedestrians over other users in outdoor spaces

Source: Royal Town Planning Institute[22] and Housing our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation[23]

What is the policy intended to do?

4. 13. 1. Providing homes for people as they get older, have disabilities or experience a long term illness is important to retaining a quality of life and continuing to be an active part of the community. To accommodate changing population demographics, new housing that can meet these needs should be provided as new development comes forward. Taking this proactive approach will help ensure the right properties are available when they are required by those who need them.

Policy H4.5 Accessible and Adaptable Homes

To provide homes for elderly people and those with disabilities and dementia, the following will be required for proposals of ten or more dwellings:

  1. All affordable homes and 20% of market homes are expected to be compliant with Part M4(2) of the Building Regulations;
  2. 4% of all new dwellings are expected to be compliant with Part M4(3) of the Building Regulations. Where this requirement is equivalent to less than a single dwelling, one dwelling will be required to meet this standard;
  3. Developers will be required to demonstrate how they have included dementia friendly

4. 14. Specialist and supported living accommodation

Why is this policy needed?

4. 14. 1. Many people will require assisted living as they get older and if they have disabilities. This is particularly apparent considering that the number of people aged 80+ years is expected to increase by 50% during the plan period (ONS, 2016 based projections). This is often provided as specialist and supported living accommodation tailored for particular needs and having support carers located on site or nearby.

4. 14. 2. The Local Plan has not allocated any sites for new specialist and supported living accommodation, however, proposals put forward for these types of schemes will be supported where they demonstrate how they will meet the needs of the community. Existing facilities will be protected and any loss will be resisted unless these facilities are re-provided within the borough and there is no net loss of units or floor space.

4. 14. 3. Provision of sheltered and specialist housing units or bed space equivalent units will be considered in lieu of affordable housing.

What is this policy intended to do?

4. 14. 4. To ensure accommodation is available to meet the needs of elderly people, specialised homes and care facilities are required. This is a national issue facing the country as we move into the future.

Policy H4.6 Specialist housing

Schemes for sheltered and specialist housing will be supported where they are well designed and integrated into the adjacent area. Proposals will be expected to be designed to a density that will reflect density requirements set out for housing.

The redevelopment of existing specialist and supported living facilities will only be supported where there is no net loss of units or floor space.

4. 15. Self-build and custom housebuilding

Why is this policy needed?

4. 15. 1. Self-build and custom housebuilding is an approach to delivering new homes that are designed and built by people to meet their aspirations and needs. The Government encourages new self and custom build homes as a way of enabling people to get onto the housing ladder in locations where they are not otherwise able rather than to support inappropriately large homes that do not make effective use of land.

4. 15. 2. Land available for new development in Watford is limited through constraints such as the Green Belt, public open space designations, nature reserves and flood risk. This is demonstrated through the Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment, which identified available land to support a scale of development less than the housing requirement calculated using the Government's standard Objectively Assessed Housing Need methodology. Therefore, it is not considered appropriate to allocate specific sites for self-build homes and custom housebuilding. However, self-build and custom build housing will be supported on windfall sites where appropriate provided the proposal complies with policies set out in the Local Plan. The council maintains a register of people interested in building a new self or custom house build.

What is this policy intended to do?

4. 15. 3. Local authorities are required to allocate land for self-build and custom house building. Watford does not have the capacity to do this. Therefore, it is important this type of residential development is facilitated through other mechanisms such supporting development in principle on windfall sites that may become available for redevelopment.

Policy H4.7 Self-build and custom housebuilding

Schemes for self-build and custom housebuilding will be supported on windfall sites. Any proposal will be required to make effective use of land and comply with the density requirements set out in the Local Plan.

Should any unallocated sites of 20 or more dwellings come forward on greenfield land, 5% of the plots should be serviced and marketed for self-build and custom housebuilding. This will need to be agreed with the local planning authority.

Where plots set aside for greenfield self-build or custom build have not been subject to a planning application, or are unlikely to be subject to a self-build or custom build proposal within 12 months of completion of the overall scheme, the plots will be subject to development by the applicant responsible for the site.

4. 16. Residential Conversions

Why is this policy needed?

4. 16. 1. Residential conversions can contribute towards new homes required in an area. This can make effective use of existing dwellings that are located in areas of high sustainability. However, conversions can also reduce the number of family sized homes. A mix of dwelling sizes (number of bedrooms) in an area is important to maintain balanced communities and enable people to move and live in areas where they share social connections and they can afford.

4. 16. 2. Areas of high sustainability are to experience the most significant amount of growth during the plan period. In these areas it will be important to deliver a good mix of dwelling sizes, however, it is likely that a greater proportion of smaller units will be provided through new developments. Therefore, it is important that family units are protected to retain a mix of homes for current and future generations.

4. 16. 3. Affordability within the Watford area varies across the borough with lower value housing more available in the higher sustainability zones compared to the medium and lower sustainability areas which have larger plots and have more family type housing. Protecting family homes across the borough, while supporting a limited amount of change, will help ensure a mix of homes with different levels of affordability are available across the borough. This will help support local people who wish to stay in the area who may otherwise be forced move outside of the town because the properties they can afford are not available locally.

4. 16. 4. Houses in multiple occupation can create issues where there is a high concentration in a particular area. This can be visible through inappropriate numbers of parked vehicles and declining maintenance affecting the property and immediate area.

4. 16. 5. To support mixed and balanced communities and ensure that a range of household needs continue to be accommodated throughout Watford, proposals for changes of use to a house in multiple occupation will only be acceptable where there is not already a concentration of these properties.

What is this policy intended to do?

4. 16. 6. Protecting the supply of family homes while enabling a limited amount of change will ensure residential properties are available at prices to support all parts of the community. Residential areas in Watford have evolved over time and will continue to do so, however, change needs to be managed to avoid having a significant adverse impact on places where people live.

Policy H4.8 Residential conversions

Proposals to sub-divide existing dwellings will be supported when the amount of existing residential frontage in a street block consisting of a mix of conversions, houses in multiple occupation or guest houses does not exceed:

  1. Appropriate 10% in any of the Sustainability Zones; or
  2. It does not affect the residential frontage in a street block and unacceptably alter the character of the street;
  3. Car parking associated with the scheme is provided on-site or nearby in off-street facilities;
  4. Appropriate amenity space and facilities for refuse and recycling storage is provided; and
  5. One cycle storage space is provided for each habitable room.

Proposals to convert properties larger than 150 sqm floor area, a family sized dwelling of three bedrooms will be required as part of the conversion.


[14] This figure will be subject to change while the draft Local Plan is progressed.

[15] The Inspectors Report for the Peterborough Adopted Local Plan noted that "consideration also needs to be given to previous delivery levels and that previous delivery levels that are similar to those proposed in the Plan do not point to a need to increase the local housing need figure". Watford has a current average of 379 unit completions per annum (Authority Monitoring Report, 2018), and although the Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment has identified more units per annum, the delivery levels generally indicate that the Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment has been thorough and accurate and the final local housing need figure is a reasonable expectation, although potentially more optimistic.

[16] See Policies SD2.7 and ST3.2

[17] Only in Strategic Development Areas with a mainline mass transit connection will sites with a density above 350dph be considered.

[19]assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/692771/family-resources- survey-2016-17.pdf

[20] www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-building-amendment-regulations-2013

[21] www.dementiastatistics.org/statistics-about-dementia/

[22] www.rtpi.org.uk/knowledge/practice/dementia-and-town-planning/

[23] www.gov.uk/government/organisations/homes-england

To take part in these consultations, you will first need to register as a user by clicking on the link at the top right of this page. Once you have registered, select a document, then comments can be given by clicking on the pen icon and writing in the form that appears. For further assistance please read our help guide.
back to top