Hospital campaign group claims the NHS is losing out as developers grab best land on future Watford Hospital site

The West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is encouraging residents to share their views on the proposed plans

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 1:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 2:00 pm

A campaign group has accused the West Herts NHS Trust (WHHT) of letting private sector developers ‘run rings around it’ in negotiations over the future of Watford General Hospital.

They claim the hospital is set to lose half the area it currently uses, as commercial interests take the best land on its current site.

The Trust have announced plans to house the Hospital in three of Watford’s tallest buildings – 18, 16 and 14 storeys high.

The Illustrative Masterplan will be submitted as part of the Outline Planning Application for information only. The illustration shows the wards organised into three finger blocks above a podium offering views to the Colne Valley.

The campaign group says planning documents have revealed that Watford’s high- rise hospital is set to be closely hemmed in by even more multi-storey blocks, many built by developers, and they say the tallest of the three planned hospital towers will reach 80 metres – 12.5 metres higher than Grenfell Tower.

The New Hospital Campaign (NHC) has accused the Trust of an ‘abject failure’ in its negotiations, leaving the high-rise hospital to be built on its car park and marooned in a sea of over-development that will mean that the WGH site will contain buildings with more than 150 storeys between them.

The campaign group are continuing to press for the new hospital to be built instead on a clear central site easily accessible to all in west Hertfordshire.

They point to the popular plans for a new lower-rise hospital on a clear site near Harlow to replace the present cramped urban Princess Alexandra Hospital as an example of what can be achieved by an NHS Trust with the right priorities.

Photo sent to the WHHT by BDP which show the precedent images of the BDP landscape scheme – Nova, London Victoria. The images have been used in the virtual public consultation presentations.

Residents of West Hertfordshire have the chance to make their views known by Friday, April 23, in a virtual consultation.

A spokesperson for the NHC said: “The West Herts Trust has allowed the private sector to run rings round it. Commercial interests have been able to cherry-pick the best parts of the existing Watford General Hospital site.

"Meanwhile, patients will have to make do with a high-rise ‘solution’ for the new West Herts hospital which is going to prove more costly and difficult to build and operate than an equivalent lower-rise development on a clear and accessible site.

“There has rightly been a lot of criticism of the proposed high-rise hospital, which will see an 80 metre high monster accompanied by two other enormous blocks just 15.5 metres apart from each other.

Photo sent to the WHHT by BDP which show the precedent images of the BDP landscape scheme – Nova, London Victoria. The images have been used in the virtual public consultation presentations.

"But there’s more. The closer you look at the plans published recently for the hospital, the worse they appear.

"Between the high-rise hospital and Vicarage Road there will be two other rows of high rises, ranging from 6 storeys to 10 storeys, closely-packed and with inadequate landscaping.

“The fact that the number of storeys on the WGH site will rise from 30 to over 150 speaks volumes about the distorted priorities of the Trust.

"They are guilty of an abject failure on many fronts. A new approach is badly needed – and there is a good example of good planning at Harlow, where the financial and operational advantages of a clear new site are properly appreciated.”

Edie Glatter, of the NHC, said: “The Trust has demonstrated shocking short-termism in rejecting the obvious option of a new clear site, and insisting instead on promoting this crowded and chaotic mess.

"The effects of the catastrophic performance of the Trust will stay with the people of the area for generations.

"I hope many people concerned with the standard of healthcare in West Herts – and the quality of the environment in West Watford – will make their views known in the current virtual consultation."

The West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust has been holding a number of virtual consultations for the public to have their say on the proposed plans, visit www.bdp.com/westhertshospitals to share your views.

A spokesperson for the WHHT, said: “People can find out more about the plans for Watford General Hospital by visiting www.bdp.com/westhertshospitals where they can also take part in a survey and share their views.

"Our website has a wealth of information including short films and summary documents on our plans for hospital services across our hospitals in Hemel Hempstead, St Albans and Watford.”