A new video has revealed more about a trust's plans to redevelop and rebuild Watford General Hospital.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is progressing with its proposal to redevelop its three sites, with the trust in line to receive hundreds of millions of pounds of capital funding from the government.

An outline planning application is expected to be submitted this spring with the trust set on spending most of the money refurbishing and rebuilding its hospital in Watford - with hope of a new hospital by 2025/26.

One illustration released by the trust shows how the hospital could be built in three 'finger' blocks with the blocks and further new hospital buildings created next door to the existing Vicarage Road site.

The darker grey shows where and how the new hospital could look. Designs are not final. Credit: BDP

The darker grey shows where and how the new hospital could look. Designs are not final. Credit: BDP

The video unveiled by the trust shows how the new hospital buildings could be be built next door to the existing site, off Thomas Sawyer Way.

While the trust stresses this is just an illustration and the designs by architects BDP are not finalised, it's the first major indication of what people could expect a new and improved hospital to look like in Watford, which is set to retain A&E and women's and children's services.

The video also shows how close the approved multi-storey car park, on former allotment land, is to the hospital. Currently visitors have to trek up a hill from the hospital's current main car park.

The hospital redevelopment would sit within the wider Riverwell regeneration scheme which is seeing around 1,000 homes and a retirement village built. A primary school and other facilities is also planned.

There's still plenty of work needed to do, with the trust needing to secure both planning permission from Watford Borough Council, as well as secure the funding from the government.

If all goes well, the trust hopes to have a new modern hospital in Watford by 2025/26 or shortly after.

Watford's mayor Peter Taylor has welcomed the latest progress saying: "It is great to see the plans for the hospital redevelopment starting to take shape.

"The council have taken tough decisions, providing the hospital with the space it needs for these really important improvements, investing in far better facilities for NHS staff who have done an outstanding job providing care for local residents."

'Lack of ambition and vision'

While investment is also planned at St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead hospitals, there are campaigners who want to see a brand new hospital built on a more accessible site to everyone collectively in west Hertfordshire.

Among those campaigners is Andy Love, who lives near St Albans. He has made some comments regarding the video released by the trust.

He said: "What immediately struck me was the sheer height of the three new finger blocks - two of the three blocks appear to be 11 storeys high and the third one around nine.

"To add to this, the new blocks appear to be very tight together. Such a tight complex of high rise buildings is not only clinical and cold but could bring additional operational risks, like having to evacuate the entire hospital."

Andy Love believes the video shows the proposed new hospital buildings as close together. Credit: WHHT

Andy Love believes the video shows the proposed new hospital buildings as "close together". Credit: WHHT

Mr Love added: "The new buildings are being built further away from the existing bus stops in Vicarage Road but there appears to be no consideration for those arriving by public transport as the illustration shows no bus terminus planned for the new hospital.

"I have been lucky enough to attend the Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust's presentation in February where the chief executive headed a presentation of their plans for a new hospital in Harlow within a greenfield campus.

"Not only will their new site be surrounded by countryside, woodlands and waterways, it will be spacious and the buildings located on the campus so as to provide the best possible calming and recovery experience for staff, patients and visitors. Why are two trusts which belong to the same sustainability and transformation partnership going down to totally different routes despite working to the same deadlines set by the government?

"The west Hertfordshire community has a once in a lifetime opportunity to benefit from a brand new and more accessible 'state of the art' hospital fit for the next 50 years but our trust appear to lack both the vision and ambition to achieve it."

'Hospital caters for west Herts and beyond'

A trust spokesperson said: "We have taken a long hard look at the future care needs of the population of west Herts as part of our plans for all our hospitals.

"In the case of Watford General Hospital and the care we anticipate providing there, we propose an increased ratio of single rooms, a new and separate building for women’s and children’s services and an expanded emergency department as well as new and upgraded diagnostic facilities and operating theatres.

"The hospital caters for patients across west Herts and beyond and so we are taking this opportunity to make sure it has the facilities it needs to provide the quality and range of care our patients expect."

Map showing the locations of the trusts three hospitals. Credit: BDP

Map showing the locations of the trust's three hospitals. Credit: BDP

They continued: "The current designs are being put forward by BDP - our architect-led design team - for public view as part of the outline planning application process. We look forward to hearing the feedback. The designs are based on securing the relevant approvals and investment.

"We are currently working on our outline business case to secure this and should we receive this, we would not expect the finished buildings to vary significantly from the drawings being shared but we will continue to keep our communities informed on the plans as they progress."

Watford General Hospital redevelopment potential layout. Credit: BDP

Watford General Hospital redevelopment potential layout. Credit: BDP

The spokesperson added: "We expect that the construction will be very quick as we will be using pre-fabricated materials where possible and not building brick by brick. The new building is sufficiently far from the existing patient areas for us to minimise disruption.

"The trust has an excellent reputation for emergency preparedness and we are confident that we can achieve safe and efficient procedures to evacuate the hospital in the unlikely scenario that this should be necessary. This is being factored into the design. Many hospitals across the world have multi-storey buildings, it is far from unusual.

"We are delighted to see that the plans make good use of the Colne Valley which will be right on the doorstep of the proposed new buildings. Creating a pleasant environment for patients, staff and visitors is very important to us.

"In terms of alternative approaches to other hospitals and their plans, our view is that there is no merit in making comparisons as we all have different needs and very varied site options."

The trust says it will be working with local authority colleagues and transport experts to make it "easy as possible" to get to and from and around the hospital site.

The trust added any current hospital buildings no longer needed will be demolished but say it is "too early at this stage" to speculate on future use of the land.