College move blocked by new hospital plan

PUBLISHED: 12:37 26 January 2006 | UPDATED: 20:19 03 May 2010

OAKLANDS College has been squeezed out of a move away from St Albans because health chiefs have signed to build a new hospital on their preferred site for a new HQ. The college announced this week that its new main base would be located at its Smallford C

OAKLANDS College has been squeezed out of a move away from St Albans because health chiefs have signed to build a new hospital on their preferred site for a new HQ. The college announced this week that its new main base would be located at its Smallford Campus rather than its favoured option of Hatfield Business Park where a deal has now been signed to construct a new state-of-the-art hospital for Herts. The Oaklands decision was revealed at the same time as health chiefs signed an agreement with Arlington Securities, owners of the business park, setting out the terms on which they would purchase a 38-acre site there. At the same time, Japanese pharmaceutical firm Eisai announced it would build a new £75-million base there creating 500 jobs by 2008. The two developments mean that there will not be enough land left for Oaklands to construct its new main base. The college had announced last year that the business park, next to the University of Hertfordshire's de Havilland Campus, was its preferred option. But yesterday (Wednesday) a college spokesperson said: "We always knew there was a risk that Arlington would find a preferred bidder for the land. The decision by the health trust and the Japanese company means that there is not enough land left at Hatfield for our project." Oaklands principal Mark Dawe said the developments in tandem would bring new learning and employment opportunities to the St Albans and Hatfield area. A planning framework for the Smallford site has already been agreed between the college and St Albans District Council which will allow the construction of 80 to 100 new homes on the campus to help fund the new development, District council planning portfolio holder Cllr Chris Brazier said: "This is good news for St Albans because it will benefit education within the district." News of the hospital deal came a week after Beds and Herts Strategic Health Authority (SHA) chairman Ian White warned that the plan for the new hospital and other schemes such as the rebuilding of Watford Hospital would be in jeopardy unless trusts cleared their financial deficits which total £100 million in the two counties. This week a spokesperson for the SHA said: "The new hospital is not due to be completed until 2013 and we have recovery plans in place across all the trusts that should see the deficits eliminated in the next few years.

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