Councillor Nigel Bell, Leader of Watford Labour Group has condemned the Lib Dems for cutting a deal with the developer of Clarendon Road that has potentially lost Watford £4.7million.
Councillor Bell said: “No wonder property developers love coming to Watford, they know they can run rings around the Lib Dems every time!
“Watford’s Lib Dems will always go out of their way for developers, which is bad enough when it comes to the sheer height and scale of this proposal. But now they’re not even bothering to safeguard the opportunities for local people to afford to live in them.”
“This latest Lib Dems development deal has surrendered up to £4.7million that could have been put towards building affordable homes, supporting local businesses or digging us out of the financial hole the Lib Dems have created”.
Watford Council’s policy requires 35% of new developments be allocated as affordable homes, but developers can opt to pay the financial equivalent instead. In the case of Clarendon Road development, consultants advised the council this would be £6.15million and that “the development is viable to make a financial contribution.”
Yet, when the development was approved, it was agreed the developer would pay a minimum £1.4million, with further payments to be made once the project is completed as long as it would still be viable for the development to do so.
Now, in a master stroke of negotiation, the Lib Dems have agreed a one-off fixed payment of £1.6million. This means that even if the developers could afford to make further contributions up to £6.15million, they are no longer required to do so.
Councillor Richard Smith, Labour Member of Development Management Committee, added: “No wonder the developers are queuing up to come to Watford. They know the Lib Dems are a soft touch, always prepared to break their own rules to help developers and it’s disgraceful, this time it may have cost Watford £millions”