The successful completion of the first phase of the £350m Health Campus regeneration scheme is being celebrated this week with the official opening of the new road into the 26 hectare site.
The new road stretches for a mile and a half through Watford, providing improved access to the local hospital as well as the infrastructure needed to kick start the next phases of the scheme, which will deliver new employment space, over 750 homes as well as community facilities and retail space.
Already underway is construction of the first industrial zone, Trade City Watford, which will see 12 light industrial units completed by summer 2017. A planning application for the first residential zone is expected in spring 2017, with the first homes on sale in 2018.
Work started on the road in June 2015 and the Health Campus partnership (Watford Borough Council and Kier Property) 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.
VolkerFitzpatrick has employed 121 local people and accepted 11 young people aged 16 to 24 on work experience placements during the road’s construction. The road has been funded with £9million from the Department of Health – to improve access to the hospital – and a £6million loan from the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) as well as partner equity.
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.”
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.
Baroness Dorothy Thornhill MBE, Mayor of Watford, who officially opens the road on 16 November, said: “The new road is a fantastic achievement for the Health Campus, and the town. This success motivates us all to get on with the next phases that will create new jobs, homes and wonderful open spaces.”
The road will be named Thomas Sawyer Way after Captain Thomas Sawyer, of Watford, who died in 2009 aged 26 serving in The Royal Artillery during the Afghanistan war. His family will unveil the new specially designed road signs – which incorporate his name and the insignia of his regiment – the day before the opening of the new road. They will be joined by Watford schoolchildren, members of The Royal Artillery and all those who have played a key part in the creation of Thomas Sawyer Way.
Further details about the Watford Health Campus can be found at www.watfordhealthcampus.org.