New St Albans superhospital for rail freight site is not ruled out by trust

The proposed site of the Radlett rail freight depot

The proposed site of the Radlett rail freight depot - Credit: Archant

Building a superhospital on the site earmarked for a giant rail freight depot has not been ruled out by a hospitals trust as part of a review of future services.

The indication that the West Herts Hospitals Trust (WHHT) would not shut the door on his proposal that the former Radlett Airfield could be the site of a superhospital has delighted campaigner Andy Love.

He believes that the location of Radlett Airfield would be ideal for a hospital serving St Albans, Hemel Hempstead, Watford and Hatfield with its good transport links, ample space for car parking and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to develop state of the art buildings and medical facilities.

Developers HelioSlough have planning permission to build a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) on the site of the former airfield but St Albans council is still opposing the development through the courts.

Should the council fail, it will be down to the county council, as part owners of the land, to decide whether or not to sell their share to HelioSlough.

Andy put his proposal for a superhospital to WHHT and the reply he received from Kevin Howell, director of facilities and estates, has not ruled out consideration being given to the suggestion.

Mr Howell promised that all avenues would be explored as part of the trust’s interim estates strategy brought about by concern about the deteriorating conditions of buildings on the three buildings run by WHHT, St Albans City, Hemel Hempstead and Watford Hospitals.

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Mr Howell said that while he was not fully conversant with Radlett Airfield, the trust would be prepared to look at the superhospital proposals with an open mind and meet with Andy to consider its potential.

Andy commented: “He didn’t shut the door and is willing to look into it.

“If it was built there, it is something which would give growth and enhance the area. I think there is a good feeling for it.”

He pointed out that the government was not averse to the creation of superhospitals and cited Papworth outside Cambridge which had been given the go ahead to move to the site occupied by Addenbrooke’s in the city itself.

One of the reasons given was the state of the existing Papworth buildings, some of which were 150 years old, and the fact that moving to brand-new purpose-built facilities would ensure the hospital could provide world-class medical care and treatment.

Andy is hoping to pursue the proposal by organising a public meeting to which St Albans MP Anne Main would be invited and the possibility of getting up a petition in support of it.

* A petition calling on the county council not to sell their land at Radlett Airfield to HelioSlough now has over 4,600 signatures.