Campaigners call for new hospital on former Radlett Airfield site

Watford General Hospital. Picture: Danny Loo.

Watford General Hospital. Picture: Danny Loo. - Credit: Archant

Campaigners calling for a new hospital central to St Albans, Watford and Dacorum are urging the council to consider the former Radlett Airfield site for development.

West Herts Hospitals Trust (WHHT) is undergoing a search for a potential new hospital site, and has asked St Albans district council to earmark provision for a new hospital in its Local Plan.

Andy Love, from the New Hospital Campaign (NHC), said: “The former Radlett Airfield site is an ideal location for a new A&E Hospital and also benefits from having a railway link to Watford Junction running close by to it.

“Very few publicly owned sites have such good connections with the neighbouring towns that make up west Herts. Housing development and a new hospital would be an ideal combination to fund the infrastructure needed to serve both.”

Developers HelioSlough have been given permission to build a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) on the former airfield site, but a Herts Ad poll in October suggested residents would prefer to see the site developed for housing.

Andy said: “A new hospital will be cheaper than a redevelopment of the three existing hospital sites. We just need the landowners to actually say that they have available land and to work together with the trust.”

The NHC has long maintained that renovating the existing hospital services at Watford General will be insufficient to deal with the growing population and is not in an ideal location to serve the people of west Herts.

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A Herts county council spokesman said: “The county council’s policy, established back in 2016, is that we have a strong preference not to see a change in the current green belt status of this land or to dispose of it.

“However, if planning permission was to be granted for the hospital proposal and the county council was to dispose of the site, it could be considered along with any other proposals which also have planning permission.”

WHHT has said it would like the St Albans Local Plan to include a general plan for a new hospital within the next five to 10 years. The WHHT submission to the council criticised the lack of a ‘hospital focus’ in the existing Local Plan, and said it did not recognise the value a new hospital would have to the local population.