A transport link which would run via West Watford as an alternative to the Met Line extension (MLX) is still a possibility.

After a multi-storey car park at Watford General Hospital was given the go ahead last night, the Mayor of Watford says a feasibility study looking at the opportunity of an MLX alternative is ongoing.

Last year, the Mayor of London said Transport for London would not support MLX, an extension of the Met Line from Croxley to Watford Junction, which would run via Vicarage Road – the home of Watford football club and the hospital.

The multi-storey car park is part of a major redevelopment scheme around the hospital, Riverwell, which will bring more than a 1,000 homes, including some which will be affordable, a primary school, care home, community centre, shops, green spaces, and a hotel.

Watford Observer:

How the new cark is likely to look

Riverwell was initially put forward with the idea MLX would run via Vicarage Road, but the mayor of Watford says the introduction of a transport link near the development remains alive.

He said: “We wanted MLX and regret the initial scheme can’t be delivered. But there is an ongoing feasibility study which is looking at a link between Watford Junction and West Watford. It could be a tram or an on demand bus service – it’s being looked at by TfL and Hertfordshire County Council.

"It would be a cheaper option to MLX and would allow people to get from town to Croxley joining the Met line.”

Kier Property says MLX has “no impact” on the viability of Riverwell adding the town is “attractive” and somewhere which people “desire to live”.

The developer added the council and its partners are “determined” to deliver a new transport link that improves the connectivity between Croxley and Watford Junction – taking in Riverwell along the route.

Watford Observer:

The Riverwell scheme is split up into a number of areas. The central area includes the new car park, shops, and restaurants. The southern area will be made up of apartments overlooking the cleaned up River Colne. The northern area will have a "village" feel and be home to homes, a primary school, and a community centre. 

There have been a total of 750 homes approved in Riverwell so far, of which nearly 150 are “affordable”.

The hospital car park construction will be financed by a car park operator, which is yet to be identified, who will look after the maintenance and management of it in the long-term. The car park is expected to be completed by summer 2020.

Last week, West Herts Hospital Trust confirmed it was committed to modernising Watford General Hospital and keeping the A&E department in the town.

Campaigners have been calling for a new A&E hospital elsewhere, possibly between St Albans and Hemel Hempstead, but this idea has been quashed by the trust.

Following the car park approval last night, acting chief executive at WHHT Helen Brown said: “I’m very aware that the standard of our current parking facilities is far from great and I’m delighted that this development will make life so much better for our patients.

"Staff and visitors will benefit too as the car park forms a key stepping stone in the further development of the hospital site." 

Riverwell, formerly known as Watford Health Campus, does allow a possibility of extending or redeveloping Watford General Hospital, which is under the trust’s jurisdiction.

The Riverwell scheme is a long term project with phases to be carried out over the coming years.