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Watford Health Campus progresses despite Farm Terrace campaigners' legal challenge
Progress on the health campus is continuing despite uncertainty over Farm Terrace allotments, Watford's elected mayor has said.
Council bosses have to reapply to build on West Watford allotments as part of the heath campus after the Government rescinded permission in the face of a legal challenge.
Eric Pickles, the secretary of state for communities and local government, reversed permission to concrete over Farm Terrace allotments after solicitors advised that campaigners taking the decision to judicial review had an arguable case.
The minister initially granted permission for the allotments to be used in the multi-million pound scheme to build 600 homes and new health facilities in May.
However in July the solicitors firm acting for the allotment-holders, Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors challenged the decision arguing the secretary of state had not satisfied his own criterion that the allotments were "surplus to requirement".
Mr Pickles will now have to make the decision again later this year.
Campaigners said they were confident that if the full criteria were applied properly the allotments would be saved.
Sara Jane Trebar, a spokesman for the Farm Terrace Community Association, said: "If the secretary of state follows the criteria as he should have done last time it will be in our favour. We are hopeful he we make the right decision otherwise it could go back to judicial review.
"The worrying thing for us is that work is going on at Farm Terrace as the council seems to be planning and surveying whether they have permission or not." However Watford’s elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill said she did not see the reapplication as a big issue for the health campus and work was continuing.
She said: "We well just carry on until we have a decision. So much groundwork needs to be done. We have to crack on with the new link road as it is needed for the Croxley Rail Link.
"It is an irritant rather than a serious problem."
The issue over Farm Terrace ignited last year when Watford Borough Council revealed the previously-protected 117-year-old allotments would need to be built on in the health campus.
Council bosses said the recession meant the land was needed to make the scheme viable for their developers Kier.
However allotment-holders have fiercely opposed the decision and raised enough funds to take the matter to judicial review.
While the Farm Terrace issue remains unresolved, other part of the health campus are progressing.
A planning application being drawn up for the new link road from the Waterfields Way to the Watford General, and the health trust is deciding on what the new hospital facilities will be built.
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