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Legal challenge will not hold up health campus, says Watford elected mayor Dorothy Thornhill
A potential legal challenge to the health campus project will not interrupt its progress, according to Watford’s elected mayor.
Dorothy Thornhill said the council will push on with its part of the scheme, which will see 700 homes built on the site, while leaving space for a new hospital redevelopment.
Her comments come after campaigners announced they were fundraising to take the decision to include the Farm Terrace Allotments in the development to judicial review.
Mayor Thornhill said: "They have got to do what they have got to do but I’ll do what I have got to do.
"It is absolutely their right to carry on with this. But what I want to do is crack on with regenerating an area of West Watford with new homes, new jobs and allowing space for the redevelopment of the hospital.
"At some point a judge will have to make a decision about how many times you can do this. I can’t imagine this is something that can continue to keep happening."
Farm Terrace Allotments were initially protected in the health campus plans to regenerate land behind Vicarage Road.
Then in 2012 Watford Borough Council voted to include the 118-year-old plots to make a new version of the scheme viable for developers.
The council was later granted permission by Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State of Communities and Local Government, to build on the allotments.
The minister was forced to rethink the permission when Farm Terrace campaigners started the process of taking the decision to judicial review. But just before Christmas he granted the council permission for a second time.
Latest health campus masterplan.
Current plans show the allotment land being used for extra car parking for Watford FC, a housing development with a community green and space for possible hospital buildings.
The details of the hospital element of the scheme will not become clear until West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust finalises its new clinical strategy. The trust has said this may not happen for up to 18 months.
Meanwhile progress has been made on the health campus scheme after planning permission was granted for a new access road to the hospital site from Dalton Way.
Mayor Thornhill added: "I was with the ambulance service today and the last comment they made to me when I left the station was ‘when is that road going to be built’. There are people who view this regeneration scheme very differently."