COUNCILLORS are hoping to influence developers in Harrow town centre with an important new planning guide.

The Tory administration has announced one of its key priorities for the next year is to draft a design guide for Harrow town centre, where several large-scale developments are in the pipeline.

Councillor Marilyn Ashton, in charge of planning, is leading officers in writing the guide which should be in place by October.

She said: “We want to be a little more specific about what we expect to see in different areas.

“In the end, it all boils down to having to take a view of each application as they come, but this definitely helps.

“We want to make sure that we give a clue to people what we would like to see, what sort of applications would press the right buttons and what will be looked upon favourably.”

The guide will set out the council's wishes and desires for developments in the town centre, and Cllr Ashton said she wants to avoid “cumbersome and bulky” designs which are devoid of glass.

She said: “What we are looking for is something that really puts us on the map, we don't want piecemeal development.

“In the end, it all boils down to having to take a view of each application as they come, but this definitely helps.”

The Tories have come under fire in the past for developments being put forward which are unpopular with local residents due to their size.

It has also been heavily criticised for not having a coherent plan as to what might be build in the town centre.

Councillors have been working on a Local Development Framework, setting down guidelines for the borough, but Cllr Ashton conceded it is taking longer than expected and a design guide is needed to protect against inappropriate developments in the meantime.

Similar guides are also being drawn up this year for Wealdstone and for a council-owned car park in Stanmore, with the possibility of planning applications for large developments being lodged.

Cllr Ashton is also keen to draw up a set of rules governing conversions of houses to flats, which could limit the number of conversion that can be done in a road.

She said: “This matters more to me than anything else because if you look at the number of petitions being sent to us, you will see how many conversions upset people.”