Watford Health Campus partners have announced that the scheme’s new road, to be known as Thomas Sawyer Way, will open to the public from 16 November 2016.
The launch of the new road marks the successful completion of the first phase of the Watford Health Campus scheme and gives the green light to the rest of the development by opening up access to the whole site. Construction works have already started on the first business zone, Trade City Watford, and plans are progressing on the design for the first phase of the residential area. On completion, this residential zone will create attractive and open green space as well as great riverside walks for the whole community.
Thomas Sawyer Way runs for a mile and a half from Dalton Way to Watford General Hospital and will significantly speed up journeys to and from the hospital, including for blue light vehicles, whose emergency times to A&E will be reduced thanks to the improved route through the south of Watford. In recognition of the road’s positive impact on hospital access for the 500,000 population served by the Watford site, the Department of Health has provided a major part of the funding (£9million). Additional funding came from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) which gave the scheme a £6million loan as part of its commitment to encourage and support jobs and business in the local area.
Work started on the road in June 2015 and the partnership worked with contractors VolkerFitzpatrick to complete on time, navigating a number of challenges and ensuring disruption to the local road network was kept to the minimum. The project has also had a big impact on training and employment in the borough with eleven 16-24 years olds undertaking work experience or training with VolkerFitzpatrick and 121 local people finding jobs.
Speaking about the road opening, Baroness Dorothy Thornhill, Mayor of Watford said: “Thomas Sawyer Way is a fantastic achievement for the Health Campus, and the town, and is made extra special by its connection to a real local hero. We have always put support for our hospital as a top priority for the Campus and so delivering a road that will make such a difference to patients, visitors and staff is great news. This success motivates us all to get on with the next phases that will create new jobs, homes and wonderful open spaces.”
Leigh Thomas, managing director, Kier Property said: “Building a new road is always a challenge for any scheme as you don’t always know what obstacles you will find until you start. As partners we set an ambitious timetable for the road because it is so critical to completing work on the rest of the Campus. We are delighted to be celebrating the road opening as it demonstrates the start of the overall development. By next summer, we aim to welcome the first new businesses to the Campus with the completion of the Trade City scheme which will provide over 70,000 sq.ft. of new business space for Watford.”
Katie Fisher, chief executive of West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We’re delighted that Thomas Sawyer Way will soon be officially open and look forward to seeing how investment by the Trust into this development will bring dividends for the local population. The road will reduce journey times to A&E for emergency vehicles and improve access for the majority of people coming to the hospital.”
Adam Wood, Infrastructure Delivery Manager for the LEP said: “The opening of the road marks a significant milestone in the delivery of this project which, coupled with the redevelopment of Watford Business Park and the Metropolitan Line Extension, is expected to have a transformative effect on the town and the wider surroundings. Our commitment to the regeneration of Watford has been demonstrated in our investment to date with £6m allocated to Watford Health Campus, and related projects, to ensure the infrastructure is in place to support development on site
Details of how the new road changes people’s journey’s to and from Watford General Hospital can be found on the Watford Health Campus website.
The new road is named after Captain Tom Sawyer, a Watford resident who lived in Blackwell Drive close to the Campus scheme who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009 at the age of 26, whilst serving in the Royal Artillery. The Health Campus Partnership considered the naming of the road after Tom to be a fitting and memorable tribute to an individual who gave so much for his country, and are honoured to be able to help remember Tom in this way. The Partnership has worked closely with the Sawyer family to develop designs for the road signs that are personal to Tom and these will be unveiled in advance of the opening.
Watford Borough Council and Kier Property are working together in a Local Asset Backed Vehicle known as the Watford Health Campus Partnership LLP to deliver the scheme. West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (the organisation that runs Watford, St Albans & Hemel Hempstead hospitals) is also a partner in the scheme although not part of the LLP. By working together to improve and revitalise the redundant and contaminated land around the hospital, the partners aim to make it an attractive and appealing area to live, work and visit.