As work starts on the Watford Health Campus road, we will keep you up to date on what is happening.
See the section: New road timetable
As work starts on the Watford Health Campus road, we will keep you up to date on what is happening.
See the section: New road timetable
Watford Health Campus partners met on site recently to mark the start of construction work on the first phase of the scheme – a new road to improve access to Watford Hospital.
Dorothy Thornhill, Elected Mayor of Watford, Jac Kelly, Interim Chief Executive at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Leigh Thomas, Managing Director from Kier Property celebrated the milestone by joining together to put the first spade in the ground.
They also took the opportunity to meet some of the team from VolkerFitzpatrick, the contractors delivering the £18.5million new road that will speed up journey times to and from the hospital for emergency vehicles as well as patients, visitors and staff. The road will open in autumn 2016.
Commenting on the milestone Dorothy Thornhill said: “It is great to see things really starting to happen on the Health Campus and to know that, in just over a year’s time, it will be easier and quicker to get to our hospital, which will make a big difference. Now it is onwards with other parts of the scheme including a purpose built business area for new, local jobs.”
Leigh Thomas said: “We are delighted that the provision of the new road is underway and this marks the start of the development of the wider scheme. We are excited to be working with the Council and the Trust to regenerate this area in west Watford and are looking forward to delivering the rest of this development with the next phase starting later this year.
The NHS granted the Trust which runs Watford Hospital £7million towards supporting the cost of the road, with the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) contributing a further £6million from its Growing Places Fund, in recognition of the importance of the Watford Health Campus scheme to the local economy.
Over the next 15 – 20 years, the Health Campus will transform 65 acres of land surrounding Watford Hospital, creating an attractive new community that will deliver over 1,000 new jobs, 750 homes and local retail and leisure facilities, The plans for the area also include new public open realm, play spaces and green infrastructure that will open up the Colne River Valley, bringing benefits to those working and visiting the hospital as well as to new and existing local residents.
Pictured celebrating the start of construction work on the Watford Health Campus road are, from left to right:
Neil Farnsworth, Project Manager, Watford Health Campus
Tenniel Souter, Site Agent – VolkerFitzpatrick
Dorothy Thornhill – Elected Mayor of Watford
Jac Kelly, Interim Chief Executive – West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust
Leigh Thomas, Managing Director – Kier Property
The following letter from West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (which runs Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead hospitals) was published in the Watford Observer [3 October 2014] in response to an article in the paper on the Watford Health Campus [26 Sept]
Watford Health Campus
I thought it would be helpful to update you about our plans for the future of Watford Hospital following your article in last week’s paper about the Watford Health Campus scheme (‘Now tell us what you want?’, Watford Observer, 26 September 2014).
I am pleased to report that our hospitals are part of a new wide-ranging review of local services, which is called the ‘West Hertfordshire strategic review’ and is being led by the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group – the body in charge of commissioning (buying) health services for the people of west Hertfordshire.
The review will be looking at what health and social care services are going to be needed in the future across the region, including hospital, mental health and community services. Importantly, we need to make sure they are sustainable – both clinically and financially – for the long term.
The review will be led by doctors, nurses and other clinicians and will involve patients and other local people.
When the review is complete and, subject to appropriate public engagement and consultation, we will be able to put forward a plan for our three hospital sites – Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead. In turn, this will provide clarity as to what the ‘health’ element of the Watford Health Campus will look like.
It will also provide clarity for the long term future of both St Albans and Hemel Hempstead hospitals, which I am sure many will agree, is long overdue.
We will of course continue to update people as we move forward.
West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust
Plans to transform an area of west Watford into an attractive, vibrant new community took a major step forward following Watford Borough Council’s Development Control Committee decision to grant planning permission for the Watford Health Campus (18 September 2014).
The Committee approved the hybrid application, which incorporates both outline and detailed elements for the mixed-use Watford Health Campus on the 26.5 hectare site, subject to the completion of a s106 Planning Obligation.
The outline element demonstrates how the scheme successfully brings together the varied uses of the site into one cohesive masterplan, which will be delivered over the next 10 – 15 years, including plans to:
The detailed element will deliver a new business zone for Watford with modern, purpose built premises that will support additional employment opportunities in the borough. The zone will also create a riverside wildlife area, which will make a significant contribution to improving the quality of green space in the area.
The planning application was submitted by Watford Health Campus LLP (Watford Borough Council and Kier Property) with the full support of the scheme’s other partner, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (which manages Watford Hospital)..
Commenting on the decision, Elected Mayor of Watford, Dorothy Thornhill said: “After months of planning we now have the green light to start making things happen and bring the Health Campus vision to life. The business zone is great news for Watford’s economy. Businesses are already signing up – confirmation that business wants to be here and that the Health Campus is providing what they need. It is just the start for the Health Campus but we are definitely underway.”
Phil Woods of Kier Project Investments Limited said: “I am delighted that the Committee and has given its support for the Watford Health Campus proposals. A considerable effort has been made by all stakeholders in developing high quality proposals for this complex scheme which will help create a sustainable community in west Watford and facilitate the re-provision of the hospital. The decision is a major milestone in allowing us to start delivery – a truly exciting prospect for all involved.”
Samantha Jones, Chief Executive said: “We are pleased with this decision. We are fully committed to the Watford Health Campus scheme which will, over time, help facilitate a major upgrade of Watford Hospital. This is great news for our patients, local people and staff.”
Note: A separate planning application has been submitted for the land known as Farm Terrace allotments. This was not considered at this meeting of the Development Control committee.
The planning application for the new road that will serve the Watford Health Campus site and significantly improve access to and from Watford Hospital was approved in December 2013.
This marked a major step forward for the Watford Health Campus and was welcomed by the scheme’s partners, particularly West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital. Commenting at the time Samantha Jones, Chief Executive of the 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.”
Whilst the plans have been approved and nothing has changed in terms of what was agreed last December, questions have arisen over recent weeks about the road – in particular its purpose and who will be able to use it.
To answer these questions, and make sure that people have the right information about the road and how it will be used, the Watford Health Campus team has put together this short update.
If you have any further questions on this or anything related to Watford Health Campus, please contact: Kathryn Robson on email@example.com
Q. Will the new road be open to all motorists?
A. Absolutely. This is a public road that will provide access to Watford Hospital and the Watford Health Campus overall – including the new homes and businesses that are planned for the site. No one will be fined for using it provided they follow the rules of the road (as is the case with any public highway
Q. Have there been any changes to the plans for the road?
A. No, not in terms of the principle of the road and its primary purpose. In fact, plans for a road to improve the access to Watford Hospital from the M1, through the south of the town, have been in place for a long time. Plans for the road were approved as part of the earlier planning application from 2007, although initial plans for the road were discussed even earlier than this. Whilst the current plans have improved the route of the road, reducing its impact on Oxhey Park (a concern to many residents), the basic principles for its design and use have not changed. The road approved as part of the 2007 application had restricted turns and proposed the use of ANPR cameras just the same as the current proposals.
The road is, and always has been, primarily intended to serve Watford Hospital. It will significantly improve the time taken for emergency vehicles to get to and from the hospital and will also reduce hospital related traffic on the surrounding roads. In particular Vicarage Road and the Hornets gyratory will benefit from fewer vehicles using them to get to the hospital.
Whilst some people remember discussions about a ‘west Watford relief road’, this road has never been intended as a by-pass. The relief road proposal was rejected as far back as 1998 because of the impact such a road would have on current roads in west Watford and the increase in commuter traffic from outside of the area it would encourage.
Additionally, the Croxley Rail Link will offer a way for peoplet to get in and out of the west side of the town more easily – thus reducing the number of vehicles on the local road network.
Q. So the road isn’t a cut through to and from west Watford?
A. No – and for good reason. As outlined above, the main case for building the road is to improve access to Watford Hospital, particularly from the M1 and for A&E (accident and emergency) traffic. This is why a major part of its cost is being met by the Department of Health, which has contributed £7million towards its £18.5million cost – the remainder is being paid for by the Watford Health Campus scheme itself. Whilst it might seem straightforward to open it up as a relief or through road, it isn’t that simple.
• a through road would undoubtedly generate lots more traffic – particularly commuter traffic. The design of the road that has been approved would not be able to cope with this additional volume. The design team would have to go back to the drawing board and look to build a much bigger, wider and noisier road – not forgetting that this busier road would be running through a local park and right through the hospital site
• whilst some areas might experience less traffic problems, other parts of Watford would become heavily congested. It would increase ‘rat-running’ down roads in Oxhey for traffic bound for the Lower High Street and the M1. Roads in west Watford such as Willow Lane and Hagden Lane would have increased traffic levels due to being at the end of a major through road. They are not designed to cope with such traffic. People in roads close to the Hornets gyratory, who have been promised relief from hospital traffic, would find this replaced by motorway-bound traffic
Q. Even if vehicles aren’t able to run right through to west Watford couldn’t the road be accessed by turning left from Wiggenhall Road or right from the Deacons Hill direction?
A. This possibility was looked at carefully to see what capacity there was not just on the new road but on the current roads and junctions in the area to take the extra traffic and the additional waiting times that would be needed at junctions to allow traffic to join and exit the road in this area.
Any turn onto the road at this point will slow traffic down along Wiggenhall Road and Deacons Hill causing additional tailbacks and backing up of traffic on local roads. Importantly, allowing additional traffic to join the road would make it necessary to slow hospital traffic down and would remove much of the benefit of providing better and faster access.
Q. How can you know about the impact of increased traffic and delays at junctions?
A. Hertfordshire County Council Highways, which is responsible for the road network in the town, can ‘model’ future road usage to see what impact changes to the road network would have on traffic volume and congestion. It was traffic modelling that clearly showed a relief road in west Watford would cause major traffic issues on surrounding roads in the area, which is why it was dropped as a proposition.
An up to date modelling exercise was undertaken last year when the plans for the road were being drawn up by specialist traffic engineers to help inform their decisions and recommendations. Hertfordshire County Council Highways is undertaking a further modelling exercise this year to confirm its current understanding of the road network in west Watford. They have also indicated that when they undertake this further modelling, they would include model traffic using the left turn from Wiggenhall Road.
Q. So it seems that even if different proposals were put forward that allowed for a west Watford relief road or for the additional ‘left’ or ‘right’ hand turns, they would not be approved?
A. Hertfordshire County Council Highways has indicated that it would not support a relief road or the additional ‘left’ or ‘right’ hand turns at the intersection of the new road with Wiggenhall Road.
Q. Will people be fined for using the road?
A. No – there is no intention to introduce fines for people who use the road to visit the hospital or to get to and from the homes, businesses or community facilities on the Watford Health Campus. However, it is important that the road does not become a ‘rat run’, which would significantly slow down the speed of emergency vehicles, and so the Watford Health Campus team is looking at ways to avoid this.
The road cannot be blocked off at the hospital end because this would stop vehicles exiting the hospital site through Willow Lane. Other ways to prevent vehicles using this part of the road as a cut through are being looked at. One option being considered is what is known as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR). This works in a similar way to the cameras that pick up cars not displaying road tax discs but other options are also being looked at.
The message is – if you are using the road as intended there is absolutely nothing to worry about.
Q So won’t there ever be any changes to the roads in the area?
A. Hertfordshire County Council Highways regularly look at ways to improve the road network in the county and in future, they may decide to review the roads around the Watford Health Campus and consider whether things could be done differently. Any changes to the road network in the area are informed by the South West Hertfordshire Transport Plans and work is currently underway on a Watford Growth and Transport Plan, which will also suppor decisions about roads within the borough.
Watford Health Campus has marked another major step forward with the recent submission of two planning applications for the scheme. If the plans are given the green light, they will transform the 29 hectare site into an attractive and vibrant new community in west Watford.
The applications were finalised following extensive public engagement earlier in the year and comprise a hybrid application, which is part outline and part detailed and a separate, outline application for the Farm Terrace allotment area. The hybrid application includes:
– hospital development space
– retail and business areas
– housing areas that will support a mixture of houses and flats
– public open space including riverside walks and a new community garden
Phil Woods of Kier Project Investments Limited, a partner in the Watford Health Campus Partnership LLP, said “The Watford Health Campus partners are delighted to have submitted the planning applications. The masterplan vision reflects concepts and ideas received from stakeholders, the public and partners, since the project was conceived over ten years ago. The project team has worked hard to meet the partners’ ambitions for the scheme and create a first class vision for the area. There has been considerable support shown for the Watford Health Campus for many years and we firmly believe west Watford will benefit considerably from the scheme”.
The Watford Health Campus scheme is gaining momentum after the project team also secured a detailed planning consent in December 2013 for the construction of a new hospital blue light link road that will improve access from the M1 to Watford Hospital. Work on the new road is due to start towards the end of this year, taking around 18 months to complete.
The current applications, which include the revised masterplan for the site, can be viewed online at Watford Health Campus Planning Application (1) and Watford Health Campus Planning Application (2) Alternatively, the plans can be viewed at Watford Town Hall by visiting the Customer Services Centre. Feedback on the applications is invited until 2 May 2014.
The applications will be decided by Watford Borough Council’s Development Control committee this summer, following which, should the applications be successful, site preparation works and detailed design will commence in the autumn. Work could then start on the business areas as early as next year.
Plans for Watford Health Campus have received overwhelmingly support, with 77% of people who responded backing the proposals to transform the 29 acre site in west Watford.
The endorsement is just one of the findings from recent engagement on Watford Health Campus, which gave local people the opportunity to share their views on the scheme and to see proposals for the site for the first time. Also receiving positive feedback from the public were the opportunities Watford Health Campus opens up for improvements to the area. People were particularly keen to see the scheme deliver: opportunities for hospital development, the new road to the hospital site and the cleaning up and improvement of disused, contaminated land.
Mayor Dorothy Thornhill said: “Getting out and about and showing local people the plans for Watford Health Campus is extremely important. By bringing the scheme to life and discussing all the improvements it will deliver, the partners have received a tremendous amount of feedback that I know is being used to make sure the proposals are right. The 77% positive response shows that people do understand and support what the partners are trying to achieve.”
Samantha Jones, Chief Executive of West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (which runs Watford Hospital) said: “We are fully committed to the Watford Health Campus scheme and it’s pleasing to see so many people took the time to get involved in the recent consultation. It’s also good to see that the overwhelming proportion of them are in favour of the proposals the partnership have put forward.”
The public had a number of ways to have their say on the Watford Health Campus proposals.
40,000 leaflets were delivered to Watford households, explaining the scheme and inviting people to get involved. They could do this by:
• completing a survey either online or by returning a freepost response form
• attending one of three public exhibitions
• contacting the team directly
Watford Health Campus brings together Watford Borough Council and Kier (working together as the Watford Health Campus Partnership LLP) and West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
The scheme will improve the large area of public land in west Watford surrounding Watford Hospital, running down from Vicarage Road to Wiggenhall Road, much of which is currently derelict, contaminated and unused.
By improving this area, the scheme will deliver a vibrant and attractive community featuring:
• quality homes – around 750 new homes, over 15 to 20 years, including much needed affordable homes
• news business and work opportunities – premises and facilities to attract new businesses, creating up to 1500 jobs over the life of the scheme
• green, open spaces and new landscaped public spaces for the whole community to enjoy
• the opportunity for hospital development that will offer greater flexibility for the hospital’s future plans
• an improved road network, including a new road for emergency vehicles to the hospital
Planning applications for the Watford Health Campus will be submitted later this month. These will involve an outline plan for the majority of the site and a detailed plan for the business space.
Watford Health Campus consultation website www.whc-consultation.co.uk
Plans to transform a large area of west Watford into a vibrant, attractive new community (known as the Watford Health Campus) have been unveiled and are available to view until 18 February 2014.
Local residents, businesses and visitors to the town are invited to comment on the new Watford Health Campus masterplan, which gives details of the proposals for the 29 hectares stretching from Watford Hospital, down to the River Colne and Wiggenhall Road.
Watford Health Campus partners – Watford Health Campus Partnership LLP (Watford Borough Council and Kier) and West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (which manages Watford Hospital) – are holding a series of public exhibitions where the masterplan will be available to view and comment on:
• Watford Football Club – Corporate Lounge: Friday 17 January 2014: 1pm – 7pm and Saturday 18 January 2014: 12 noon – 3pm
• Watford Town Hall – Committee Room 2: Thursday 30 January 2014: 10am – 1.30pm
Members of the Watford Health Campus team will be available at the sessions to answer questions on the masterplan and the scheme overall.
Commenting on the masterplan, Dorothy Thornhill MBE, Elected Mayor of Watford said: “The Watford Health Campus partners are delighted that, after months of work by the team, plans are finally ready to share with the community. Over this time, many local people have asked me what they could expect from the Watford Health Campus and it’s great news that we now have something people can look at that brings the scheme to life.
“We have been very demanding about what we want to see happen on the site: good quality homes, new business premises to encourage job opportunities, great open spaces with places for people to walk and exercise and the right mix of facilities such as shops, restaurant and cafés. Getting it right is vital for Watford; the scheme will take up to 20 years to deliver but a good masterplan is a great start”.
Samantha Jones, Chief Executive of West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We’re delighted to be involved in such an exciting project which will undoubtedly deliver many advantages for the people of west Watford and beyond.
“Watford Hospital is at the centre of the Watford Health Campus and, in time, the plans will offer numerous benefits to our patients, their friends and families and our staff.
“I’d encourage local people to get involved and to help shape the masterplan”.
Phil Woods, Associate Director Kier Project Investment, said: “Following months of planning and preparation work with our partners and consulting teams we are delighted to be able to share the masterplan and vision for the Watford Health Campus with the residents and visitors of Watford. We look forward to hearing their views at this important consultation phase with a view to submitting our planning application shortly thereafter”.
For those who cannot get to an exhibition, the plans can be seen by visiting the dedicated Watford Health Campus consultation website www.whc-consultation.co.uk
Feedback can be also given online through the website.
Additionally, every home in the borough has received a Watford Health Campus feedback form that they can return free of charge to the team or you can follow the scheme on twitter @healthcampus
All the feedback received will be considered before the final masterplan is submitted for approval to Watford Borough Council at the end of February 2014.
Department for Communities and Local Government news release
Ministers give the go ahead for land to be included in a major regeneration scheme in Watford
Ministers have today (18 December 2013) given the go ahead for land to be included in a major regeneration scheme in Watford. The Watford Health Campus will provide new modern hospital facilities, around 700 good quality homes, new green space and around 1,600 jobs.
Watford Borough Council had sought approval for a disposal of the land to be built on under the Allotments Act 1925 which requires ministerial approval for any change of use of council allotments. Strict government rules also regulate the disposal of allotments, and in particular a requirement that any allotment land lost must be matched by the creation of like-for-like new allotments elsewhere within the area. Ministers approved the inclusion of these allotments into the Health Campus once they were satisfied Watford Borough Council met these rules and will be creating new allotments to replace those lost to enable the building of the new hospital facilities.
New guidance will be published in the New Year clarifying the strict conditions under which councils can dispose of allotments.
Stephen Williams said: “This application, backed by the local council, local MP Richard Harrington and Watford’s Elected Mayor Dorothy Thornhill, opens the door for new NHS hospital facilities and regeneration scheme, as well as replacement allotments. Having carefully considered all the issues and representations, ministers have approved the application.”
CmaWatford Borough Council has received confirmation from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that he has granted consent to appropriate the Farm Terrace allotment land for the benefit of the Watford Health Campus scheme. This upholds his original decision in May and confirms the council has overwhelmingly demonstrated reasons why the land is essential to the Watford Health Campus, particularly in terms of ensuring the scheme’s economic viability and the wider public benefits of improved hospital facilities, housing (including affordable housing) and green space.
In its revised submission to DCLG, the council also restated that the overall level of allotment provision in the town will remain the same and the 60 or so Farm Terrace allotment holders affected will be offered good quality, alternative provision within the borough – many within walking distance. The council was also able to demonstrate its on-going commitment to allotments by the current £800,000 investment plan to improve and upgrade all sites in Watford.
Dorothy Thornhill, elected Mayor of Watford said: “I’m relieved! We’ve always known it’s the right thing to do. It’s been a hard journey to get where we are but we can now get on with sharing the exciting plans for the Health Campus with the community. I would encourage people to come along to one of the consultation events in January and see for themselves how the scheme will transform this part of the town.”
“I understand that this is not the outcome Farm Terrace allotment holders wanted but all are being offered good, alternative allotments very close by and support with the relocation.”
Samantha Jones, Chief Executive, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust comments: “We are pleased with today’s news, especially as it will allow us more flexibility to provide the best possible services and facilities on the Watford Hospital site. This is good news for our patients and staff.
We recognise that the Farm Terrace allotment holders will be disappointed by this news. However, I am assured that the Council have put in place suitable alternative arrangements for them and have committed to supporting them as they relocate.”
Although the Secretary of State had previously granted consent to appropriate Farm Terrace, the council was required to submit a revised application in September. This followed an acknowledgement by DCLG that its original decision letter to the council contained an arguable error of law, meaning the case had to be considered again. However, the Secretary of State’s recent decision confirms the merits of the council’s original submission and the wider benefits of the Health Campus to Watford and the local community.