A significant milestone for the Watford Health Campus was achieved last week when the planning application for the scheme’s road infrastructure was approved by Watford Borough Council’s Development Control Committee. This includes a vital link road that will provide a much faster route from the M1, via Dalton Way, and an access road to the south side (rear) of the current Watford Hospital site.
Once completed, the new road will be the main access to the hospital, relieving pressure on the current Vicarage Road entrance. This will help to reduce a significant amount of traffic congestion in and around west Watford.
The principle of a new link and access road was agreed in July 2010 but was subject to further detailed design. The revised application considered by Committee incorporated improvements to the design and include a new, narrower road that runs along the northern edge of Oxhey Park alongside the railway embankment. The changes took into account feedback from local residents and park users, who worked with the designers and the Watford Health Campus partners on the new proposals.
The revised and simplified design will mean far less disruption to the park itself, considerably less noise and the retention of more of Oxhey Park as green, open space for the community. Residents were also reassured that potential ‘rat run’ issues had been addressed, including making sure the road couldn’t be used as a cut-through to west Watford or to the M1 link road from Oxhey and Northwood.
The granting of planning permission means work will start on the road infrastructure in spring 2014, with completion expected by the end of 2015. It will be coordinated with the delivery of the Croxley Rail Link scheme including the construction of a bridge over the railway.
Elected Mayor of Watford, Dorothy Thornhill said: “The road will help reduce traffic congestion in this part of Watford and improve access to the hospital, so I’m very pleased that we have been able to work with local residents and park users to get the better design solution we wanted.
“The plans being worked up for the Watford Health Campus site will also see new employment units for companies to move into. This will lead to more jobs, so these new roads are really crucial to the local economy and the job situation for years to come.”
The overall cost of the new roads is estimated at £18.5million. West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (which runs Watford Hospital) is providing £7million towards this, with the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) contributing a further £6million via a grant from the Growing Places Fund, in recognition of the importance of the Watford Health Campus scheme to the local economy.
Samantha Jones, Chief Executive of West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We are very pleased that the planning application has been approved. The new road will greatly improve access to the hospital for people living in Watford, as well as those from St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and further afield.”
John Gourd, Chair of Hertfordshire LEP said: “This new road infrastructure is important to the area. Of course, hundreds of local people are currently employed at Watford Hospital but the plans being developed for the Watford Health Campus site will also see derelict land regenerated to provide good quality employment space. We see this as a key area to provide future economic growth and many new jobs, which will benefit local people.”