Councillors have agreed to iron out a legal gaffe which put a Herts hospital rebuild and refurbishment under threat.

Local authorities now have extra time to sign off their Section 106 legal agreements.

The legal agreements set out what developers – in this case an NHS Trust – must do to balance new building works with community needs.

St Albans City and District Council originally granted permission for the development in September 2022 – if the legal agreement could be completed and sealed by March 26, 2023.

According to council staff, “resourcing pressures” across the various authorities involved caused a delay.

At a district planning committee meeting on Monday, May 22, councillors agreed to extend the deadline to July 26, 2023.

A statement by the St Albans planning team set out: “The committee resolved to grant planning permission subject to conditions and completion of a legal agreement within six months.

“The Section 106 agreement has been drafted in line with the heads of terms and a second draft is currently with the county council for review.

“Owing to resourcing pressures, the agreement has not been completed and sealed within the deadline set at the September 2022 committee of March 26, 2023.

“Officers are therefore seeking a four-month extension of time to complete the Section 106 and issue the decision notice until July 26, 2023.

“It is very much hoped and expected that not all of this time will be needed.”

If West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust can secure planning permission for the build, it will be able to replace or refurbish areas of the hospital which “are not functionally suitable”.

In its original planning application from 2022, the trust set out 60 per cent of the existing hospital facilities are not up to scratch.

The new builds will be “sensitive” to the “locally listed” Old Hospital and nearby Victorian terraced houses.

The new theatre will “increase service capacity and address future demand”, according to West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

If work goes ahead, the current endoscopy service at Hemel Hempstead Hospital would be moved to St Albans.

The plan is part of a wider refurb and rebuild plan across sites in St Albans, Watford and Hemel Hempstead.