Watford Borough Council has now (26 May 2016) received approval from the Secretary of State (SofS) for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that it can go ahead with its plans to appropriate the Farm Terrace allotment land.
This upholds two previous decisions made, and shows the importance of the land to the economic development of the area and to improve the current hospital site.
The SofS stated that the council had demonstrated overwhelming evidence of why the land is essential to the Health Campus, providing flexibility for Watford Hospital’s future plans, much needed affordable housing and publicly accessible green space.
He also recognised that the level of allotment space available for Watford residents will remain the same, and that the council is offering compensation to the allotment holders and providing alternative space just a short walk away.
Baroness Dorothy Thornhill, Elected Mayor of Watford said: “This is the news that we have been waiting for. The Health Campus is a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something really exciting with an area that is mainly unattractive old industrial land. Why wouldn’t we do everything we can to use it to make a real difference to the lives of our local community and turn it into somewhere we can be proud of. We have proved again that the allotment land is critical to delivering the best scheme we can without having to compromise on quality or on the plans for our hospital.
“While I understand that a few allotment holders will be disappointed with this decision, I would like to assure them that we will continue to offer alternative plots a short distance away. I hope that they will now accept the decision, especially as the hospital’s emerging plans make it clear that the allotments are a key part of their future in the town.”
Richard Harrington MP for Watford said: “These allotments have been loved and tended to for 100 years but sometimes difficult decisions need to be made to secure our future. Huge efforts are being made to provide alternative plots close by. The new health facilities, affordable housing and regeneration that the Health Campus project will bring to West Watford mean that it’s a sacrifice worth making and that is the way I’ve looked at this from the outset.
“Health Campus plans have facilitated the opening of the Metropolitan Line Extension, with two new tube stations for Watford and the Link Road from the M1. It’s fundamental to the future of our town and I am working closely with the Hospital Trust, the Department for Health and Watford Council to ensure we are able to get the investment for it.”
Jacqueline Kelly, Chief Executive of West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “This is great news for all of the partners involved in the Health Campus project. We have already set out that the allotment site offers us the most flexibility for our future plans. The existing patient and visitor car park is currently unsatisfactory and this decision will help us finalise our proposals for improved facilities for Watford residents.”