Major redevelopment moves a step closer as town planners give project the green light
Outline plans for new hospital facilities in Watford have been unanimously approved by the town council’s development management committee.
The show of support is a milestone for West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which is one of eight ‘frontrunners’ in the Government’s New Hospital Programme, which has committed to build 40 new hospitals by 2030.
The permission was based on plans for new buildings for emergency and critical care, inpatient wards, operating theatres, women’s and children’s services, and a new energy centre on land next to the current Watford General Hospital.
The application also included demolition of existing hospital buildings and significant landscaping improvements.
The designs put forward by the architect, BDP, make the site far easier for pedestrians and wheelchair users.
And the new multi-storey car park, due to open next spring, will enable patients, visitors, and staff to access the hospital without negotiating the steep slope.
The Watford General Hospital redevelopment is not a like-for-like replacement. It will embrace the opportunities afforded by new medical and digital technologies, emerging models of care, and also the learning from the COVID-19 pandemic
The outline planning application sets the maximum scope for the new buildings and allows for three new clinical buildings near Thomas Sawyer Way, where the site is lower, meaning that their position limits the above-ground impact.
Detailed designs will be completed once the government’s New Hospital Programme has concluded work on standardising layouts of clinical space, the recommended ratio of single rooms, and construction methods.
Commenting on the project, Paul Johnson, lead architect at BDP, said: “The gradient of the site has allowed us to consider tall buildings, which are excellent for keeping clinical services close together.
“The building will offer lots of natural light and views to the River Colne and North London beyond.
“We know it will be a functional hospital and we are confident that our design will create spaces to look over to, and access, the Colne Valley, as well as provide tucked-away garden areas where staff, patients, and visitors can spend a few quiet moments.”
He added: “We have listened very closely to clinicians and have developed our plans firmly in line with theirs so that we can deliver a visionary building which is clinically efficient; supporting the care they provide to patients and providing an outstanding healing environment.”
Addressing councillors, Duane Passman, the trust's acute redevelopment programme director, said: “The Watford General Hospital redevelopment is not a like-for-like replacement. It will embrace the opportunities afforded by new medical and digital technologies, emerging models of care, and also the learning from the COVID-19 pandemic."
We know it will be a functional hospital and we are confident that our design will create spaces to look over to, and access, the Colne Valley, as well as provide tucked-away garden areas where staff, patients, and visitors can spend a few quiet moments
Following the granting of permission, which stipulates that the trust must develop a green travel plan and provide funding to support improvements to public transport and access to the site, he added: “We are delighted to have moved another step closer to providing better hospital buildings for our patients across west Herts.
“I am also thrilled for our staff, many of whom have worked for far too long in substandard environments.
“We still have a lot of work ahead of us to develop our outline business case and secure the level of funding needed, but the support of the local authority is a massive boost.”
The next milestone will be the trust board’s approval of a final preferred option from its outline business case, which will be early next year.
This will then be formally submitted to regulators for their approval and to agree the amount of investment.
in the meantime the trust’s leadership team is continuing to work closely with the New Hospital Programme to ensure that its designs reflect the latest thinking around clinical layouts, digital integration, net-zero carbon, and standardised construction methods.