Farm Terrace Allotments should not be sacrificed for ‘risky’ health campus, says Labour group

Watford Observer: Campaigners who fought a legal battle to save Farm Terrace Allotments. Campaigners who fought a legal battle to save Farm Terrace Allotments.

Labour politicians have questioned whether 117-year-old West Watford allotments should be sacrificed in the “risky” health campus scheme when there is “no viable plan” in place for a new hospital.

The opposition group argued financial uncertainty surrounding Watford General Hospital had reduced the regeneration scheme too “speculative property development”.

Watford Observer:

Watford General Hospital.

The criticism comes after the government granted permission for Farm Terrace Allotments to be concreted over as part of the scheme to build 600 new homes and hospital facilities on land behind Vicarage Road.

The Department of Communities and Local Government’s ruling, which was announced yesterday, follows a drawn-out legal battle against allotment campaigners.

Watford Labour leader, Nigel Bell, said: "With no viable plan to fund the hospital redevelopment this scheme has been exposed as a risky and speculative property development cooked up by a Lib Dem Mayor and approved by a Tory Minister, against the wishes of local people.

"We will be campaigning for government funding to give local people the modern hospital they deserve."

Original plans for the health campus had protected the Farm Terrace Allotments in the development. However, last year politicians at Watford Borough Council voted to include the allotment land in the scheme saying it was necessary to make it viable for developers.

Yesterday’s decision was welcomed by the town’s elected Liberal Democrat mayor, Dorothy Thornhill, who said: "Whilst in my head I never doubted that the right decision would be made, clearly it has been a long grind and a difficult one and you know there are times when you wonder.

"Asking to build on allotment land was not a decision we took lightly."

Watford Observer:

Plans for the health campus development. 

Yet uncertainty remains over the health element of the scheme as Watford General Hospital’s latest reports show it is coming under increasing financial strain.

The hospital trust delayed its application for foundation status last year, which would give it the financial independence needed for any large-scale redevelopment.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is due to unveil a new clinical strategy, which will outline its plans to redevelop Watford General.

Mayor Thornhill said: "Part of that redevelopment is around securing space for new hospital facilities.

"I don’t want a chief executive of the hospital in five or ten years time to turn around and say, ‘if we only had some ground, if we only we could’ve done that’.

"I don’t want to be responsible for Watford General Hospital not to be able to improve its facilities in the 21st century."

The issue of Farm Terrace has become a fault line in the Watford mayor election with the challenging Labour candidate, Jagtar Singh Dhindsa, promising to protect the allotments if elected.

Today Councillor Dhindsa reiterated his pledge, saying: "This is a sad day and a kick in the teeth for the allotment holders and the residents of west Watford. I want to see our hospital modernised with a scheme that retains the allotments."

Comments (7)

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12:46pm Thu 19 Dec 13

TRT says...

I'm really curious as to the graphics that keep accompanying these articles... you see, there's this green one they've used here, which shows the new road going across the middle of the playing fields in Oxhey park, a route which, incidentally, wouldn't work because of the disparity in ground level at the junction with Deacon's Hill / Wiggenhall Road, and there's the plan shown in the article about the road, in grey and blue, which shows the road following the rail embankment until it nears the Irish club where it kicks out and emerges opposite the existing site entrance on a level with the road.

The problem I have is that the green picture must be a very early draft of the proposal as the road's proposed position moved about 18-24 months ago, BEFORE the announcement that the allotments were required to make the plan viable, yet the green picture seems to show housing where the allotments are.

It must be boiled cod on the hospital menu today, as I smell something very fishy.
I'm really curious as to the graphics that keep accompanying these articles... you see, there's this green one they've used here, which shows the new road going across the middle of the playing fields in Oxhey park, a route which, incidentally, wouldn't work because of the disparity in ground level at the junction with Deacon's Hill / Wiggenhall Road, and there's the plan shown in the article about the road, in grey and blue, which shows the road following the rail embankment until it nears the Irish club where it kicks out and emerges opposite the existing site entrance on a level with the road. The problem I have is that the green picture must be a very early draft of the proposal as the road's proposed position moved about 18-24 months ago, BEFORE the announcement that the allotments were required to make the plan viable, yet the green picture seems to show housing where the allotments are. It must be boiled cod on the hospital menu today, as I smell something very fishy. TRT

1:20pm Thu 19 Dec 13

Cuetip says...

TRT wrote:
I'm really curious as to the graphics that keep accompanying these articles... you see, there's this green one they've used here, which shows the new road going across the middle of the playing fields in Oxhey park, a route which, incidentally, wouldn't work because of the disparity in ground level at the junction with Deacon's Hill / Wiggenhall Road, and there's the plan shown in the article about the road, in grey and blue, which shows the road following the rail embankment until it nears the Irish club where it kicks out and emerges opposite the existing site entrance on a level with the road.

The problem I have is that the green picture must be a very early draft of the proposal as the road's proposed position moved about 18-24 months ago, BEFORE the announcement that the allotments were required to make the plan viable, yet the green picture seems to show housing where the allotments are.

It must be boiled cod on the hospital menu today, as I smell something very fishy.
There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip is an old English proverb that encapsulates this allotment debate.

It implies that even when the outcome of an event seems certain, things can still go pear shaped as with the demands to pile more housing or the realignment of roads onto green spaces and Health Trust shaky finances.

This proverb expresses a truth based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity.
[quote][p][bold]TRT[/bold] wrote: I'm really curious as to the graphics that keep accompanying these articles... you see, there's this green one they've used here, which shows the new road going across the middle of the playing fields in Oxhey park, a route which, incidentally, wouldn't work because of the disparity in ground level at the junction with Deacon's Hill / Wiggenhall Road, and there's the plan shown in the article about the road, in grey and blue, which shows the road following the rail embankment until it nears the Irish club where it kicks out and emerges opposite the existing site entrance on a level with the road. The problem I have is that the green picture must be a very early draft of the proposal as the road's proposed position moved about 18-24 months ago, BEFORE the announcement that the allotments were required to make the plan viable, yet the green picture seems to show housing where the allotments are. It must be boiled cod on the hospital menu today, as I smell something very fishy.[/p][/quote]There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip is an old English proverb that encapsulates this allotment debate. It implies that even when the outcome of an event seems certain, things can still go pear shaped as with the demands to pile more housing or the realignment of roads onto green spaces and Health Trust shaky finances. This proverb expresses a truth based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. Cuetip

2:10pm Thu 19 Dec 13

TRT says...

And as Carl Sagan said, IIRC, "It’s too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been swindled. Once you give a charlatan power, there's no going back.”

The hospital plan is absolutely the pinnacle of short-sighted, non-joined up thinking that typifies post-Thatcher Watford (if not the whole country). They want to centralise hospital services, with new health-care facilities, integrated research, community awareness etc. and to bring it to the masses of the whole of South-West Hertfordshire, so they'd want to build it somewhere sensible, right? Like the middle of the catchment area, yes? No. How about right on the edge, two and a bit miles from another huge hospital in a neighbouring authority, and eight miles from two of the three population centres it's meant to service.

But, you'd want the ambulances at least to be able to get there quickly, of course, so you'd build it where there was good road access and connection to established routes? Not really, you'd build it in an area with a history of chronic congestion, so bad, in fact, that it could form a cornerstone of a bid for £16m to the government to help alleviate it with a new tube-link, and you'd make sure that you have to rip up a rugby/football pitch, a park with a quiet riverside walk, a national cycle route and a natural bog-land habitat with a new road just to service the hospital and get around all the chronic congestion, linking it via a three-mile long road to the nearest motorway.

And of course, you'd want this facility to be built and operational as quickly and cheaply as possible? Well, not really. The best way would seem to be to build it in stages which involve shuffling clinical services around, the demolition of old buildings, the noise, dust, vibration, threat of flooding, power failure, crane collapse etc. And ambulances being blocked by construction deliveries etc etc. And having to build and sell housing as you go to fund the extended building period, with the hybrid access for hospital traffic and housing coming from different roads as a consequence of this. That would be as an alternative to, say, building it on an exiting brownfield site which is lying unused somewhere next to a motorway, or on a greenfield site somewhere the purchase price of which would be more than made up for by being able to finish it in a much shorter time without having to shuffle around a working hospital. Somewhere you could concentrate on building the hospital first, and the housing second. Where you could include more social housing for, say, nurses and cleaners and technicians, because there's less financial pressure. Maybe somewhere where you could get deliveries of heavy goods made by canal, even, like they did in Manchester, Salford, Leeds. Or if that's too radical an idea, just build it somewhere pleasant to live, to recuperate, to visit. Somewhere more in keeping with the corporations and organisations that might actually want to site themselves there, like medical equipment suppliers, pharmaceuticals, university research departments etc. I mean, if you're going to relocate from Amersham, Mill Hill, Brentford, in for a penny, in for a pound, why not King's Langley instead of West Watford? Have you seen the page of GSK's UK operations centres, for example?
And as Carl Sagan said, IIRC, "It’s too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been swindled. Once you give a charlatan power, there's no going back.” The hospital plan is absolutely the pinnacle of short-sighted, non-joined up thinking that typifies post-Thatcher Watford (if not the whole country). They want to centralise hospital services, with new health-care facilities, integrated research, community awareness etc. and to bring it to the masses of the whole of South-West Hertfordshire, so they'd want to build it somewhere sensible, right? Like the middle of the catchment area, yes? No. How about right on the edge, two and a bit miles from another huge hospital in a neighbouring authority, and eight miles from two of the three population centres it's meant to service. But, you'd want the ambulances at least to be able to get there quickly, of course, so you'd build it where there was good road access and connection to established routes? Not really, you'd build it in an area with a history of chronic congestion, so bad, in fact, that it could form a cornerstone of a bid for £16m to the government to help alleviate it with a new tube-link, and you'd make sure that you have to rip up a rugby/football pitch, a park with a quiet riverside walk, a national cycle route and a natural bog-land habitat with a new road just to service the hospital and get around all the chronic congestion, linking it via a three-mile long road to the nearest motorway. And of course, you'd want this facility to be built and operational as quickly and cheaply as possible? Well, not really. The best way would seem to be to build it in stages which involve shuffling clinical services around, the demolition of old buildings, the noise, dust, vibration, threat of flooding, power failure, crane collapse etc. And ambulances being blocked by construction deliveries etc etc. And having to build and sell housing as you go to fund the extended building period, with the hybrid access for hospital traffic and housing coming from different roads as a consequence of this. That would be as an alternative to, say, building it on an exiting brownfield site which is lying unused somewhere next to a motorway, or on a greenfield site somewhere the purchase price of which would be more than made up for by being able to finish it in a much shorter time without having to shuffle around a working hospital. Somewhere you could concentrate on building the hospital first, and the housing second. Where you could include more social housing for, say, nurses and cleaners and technicians, because there's less financial pressure. Maybe somewhere where you could get deliveries of heavy goods made by canal, even, like they did in Manchester, Salford, Leeds. Or if that's too radical an idea, just build it somewhere pleasant to live, to recuperate, to visit. Somewhere more in keeping with the corporations and organisations that might actually want to site themselves there, like medical equipment suppliers, pharmaceuticals, university research departments etc. I mean, if you're going to relocate from Amersham, Mill Hill, Brentford, in for a penny, in for a pound, why not King's Langley instead of West Watford? Have you seen the page of GSK's UK operations centres, for example? TRT

2:15pm Thu 19 Dec 13

Mr Barrow says...

Nye Bevan will be turning in his grave. Labour always claim to be the party of the NHS but they seem determined to undermine these improvements to our hospital whenever they can. I am appalled by their behaviour on this.
Nye Bevan will be turning in his grave. Labour always claim to be the party of the NHS but they seem determined to undermine these improvements to our hospital whenever they can. I am appalled by their behaviour on this. Mr Barrow

8:32pm Thu 19 Dec 13

Cuetip says...

Mr Barrow wrote:
Nye Bevan will be turning in his grave. Labour always claim to be the party of the NHS but they seem determined to undermine these improvements to our hospital whenever they can. I am appalled by their behaviour on this.
Just a thought as to whether you have you read his speeches on the financing / ownership of hospitals?

October 5, 1945 Nye Bevan The Future of the Hospital Services
This is how I would do it:-
(1) The State, the central government acting through the Minister of Health, would be empowered to take over the full ownership of all hospitals, voluntary and municipal -including sanatoria, mental hospitals and mental deficiency institutions – in order to provide a national hospital service.

‘The whole hospital service so created would be centrally financed’

I think he believed that taxes would be used and would turn in his grave to see the bulldozing of peoples' allotments.
[quote][p][bold]Mr Barrow[/bold] wrote: Nye Bevan will be turning in his grave. Labour always claim to be the party of the NHS but they seem determined to undermine these improvements to our hospital whenever they can. I am appalled by their behaviour on this.[/p][/quote]Just a thought as to whether you have you read his speeches on the financing / ownership of hospitals? October 5, 1945 Nye Bevan The Future of the Hospital Services This is how I would do it:- (1) The State, the central government acting through the Minister of Health, would be empowered to take over the full ownership of all hospitals, voluntary and municipal -including sanatoria, mental hospitals and mental deficiency institutions – in order to provide a national hospital service. ‘The whole hospital service so created would be centrally financed’ I think he believed that taxes would be used and would turn in his grave to see the bulldozing of peoples' allotments. Cuetip

8:32pm Thu 19 Dec 13

Cuetip says...

Mr Barrow wrote:
Nye Bevan will be turning in his grave. Labour always claim to be the party of the NHS but they seem determined to undermine these improvements to our hospital whenever they can. I am appalled by their behaviour on this.
Just a thought as to whether you have you read his speeches on the financing / ownership of hospitals?

October 5, 1945 Nye Bevan The Future of the Hospital Services
This is how I would do it:-
(1) The State, the central government acting through the Minister of Health, would be empowered to take over the full ownership of all hospitals, voluntary and municipal -including sanatoria, mental hospitals and mental deficiency institutions – in order to provide a national hospital service.

‘The whole hospital service so created would be centrally financed’

I think he believed that taxes would be used and would turn in his grave to see the bulldozing of peoples' allotments.
[quote][p][bold]Mr Barrow[/bold] wrote: Nye Bevan will be turning in his grave. Labour always claim to be the party of the NHS but they seem determined to undermine these improvements to our hospital whenever they can. I am appalled by their behaviour on this.[/p][/quote]Just a thought as to whether you have you read his speeches on the financing / ownership of hospitals? October 5, 1945 Nye Bevan The Future of the Hospital Services This is how I would do it:- (1) The State, the central government acting through the Minister of Health, would be empowered to take over the full ownership of all hospitals, voluntary and municipal -including sanatoria, mental hospitals and mental deficiency institutions – in order to provide a national hospital service. ‘The whole hospital service so created would be centrally financed’ I think he believed that taxes would be used and would turn in his grave to see the bulldozing of peoples' allotments. Cuetip

10:52pm Thu 19 Dec 13

dontknowynot says...

Dotty is rattled on this
Dotty is rattled on this dontknowynot

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