Last night (3 December) Watford Borough Council’s Cabinet approved revised plans for the Watford Health Campus and established a legal agreement with Kier Project Investment Ltd.
This is an important milestone in the project which will see new hospital facilities, new employment space and up to 1600 local jobs, new homes, improved open public space and a neighbourhood centre in the west of the town.
The revised plans for the Campus that were agreed include the use of the Farm Terrace Allotment site. It was agreed that this improved the viability of the scheme – allowing space for a re-provisioned hospital, much needed family housing and quality public green space.
Elected Mayor Dorothy Thornhill said: “All the members of the Cabinet were really affected by the passion shown by the allotment holders, so this was a difficult decision, but we have to give the Health Campus the best chance of success. The allotment holders raised the idea of a community garden on the health campus site, and I am really pleased that we are able to agree to this.”
The 65 allotment holders at Farm Terrace will be relocated to alternative plots at Holywell (500 metres away) or Paddock Road (1.2 miles away), or at any site of their choice in the borough that has vacancies. There are currently 47 unoccupied plots, out of a total of 128 at Farm Terrace. At both Holywell and Paddock Road, currently uncultivated land will be brought back into use, thus maintaining the overall level of allotment provision within Watford. By relocating the allotment site, it will avoid significant disruption and the impact of pollution over the duration of the Campus development – possibly a ten year period.
Cabinet also agreed to prioritise the councils new allotment investment plan which will see over £800,000 of improvements carried out at all allotment sites across the town. This will include things like new fencing, toilets, compost bins; vacant plot clearance and access improvements.
Negotiations will now continue with Kier in regard to the forming of a local asset backed vehicle, which is the legal partnership whereby the council and West Herts Hospital Trust contribute the land and Kier provide the finance. The next step is then for Kier to submit a revised planning application, on which residents will be asked their views.