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17 January 2019 Written by 

Watford Borough Council Introduces New Measures To Protect Employment Space

Watford Borough Council has introduced measures which will give the council more control over four key employment areas in the borough and is also pressing the government to protect high streets.

The new powers - called Article 4 Directions - mean that planning permission will now need to be granted for changes from employment to residential use. Further loss of employment land to residential use would mean the area could soon run out of enough employment land for prospective companies, investors and start-up businesses.

The introduction of an Article 4 Direction to cover the employment areas around Greycaine Road, Odhams and Sandown Road is a response to evidence from the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) that there is a shortage of employment floorspace in the county, including Watford.

The reduction of employment land in Watford has also encouraged the council to issue a strong response to government plans to give high street shops greater freedom to change from one use to another – including homes - without planning permission. The council has made it clear to government that in order to support our high streets and other employment areas, more planning control is needed, not less.

Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: "For Watford's economy to continue to grow it is vital that we have good quality employment space. Watford is home to a number of businesses, small to large, which is a good thing for our town. These article four directions will mean that we are able to stop this being lost and converted into flats.

"We have also been very clear to the government that their proposals to reduce our ability to protect and promote our High Street are unacceptable. We all understand that some new homes are needed but people we must also have places to work, shop and enjoy their leisure time. I will do everything I can to make sure that this balance is maintained - and not lost because of the pressure from central government for more homes."

The Article 4 Direction came into force on Wednesday 16 January 2019. Within six months of this date, the council will confirm if the Direction will be in place for the long-term. You can have your say on the Article 4 Direction from 16 January to 12 February 2019 by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or writing to Planning Policy, Watford Borough Council, Town Hall, Watford, Hertfordshire WD17 3EX.

The documents can be viewed online at:

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