Official plans to redevelop and "transform" Watford General Hospital have been submitted.

The plans, dubbed a "once in a generation opportunity", include creating three new hospital buildings, one of which could be up to 17 storeys high, with all of the main services being kept in Watford.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, the organisation that runs Watford General, is hoping to secure hundreds of millions of pounds of funding from the Government to enable them to redevelop its hospitals in Watford, St Albans, and Hemel Hempstead.

Last year, the trust committed to spending the bulk of the investment on redeveloping Watford General, which planning documents state is in "poor condition".

The land proposed to house the new hospital buildings is just south of the current hospital site in Vicarage Road.

Three new buildings would be constructed with up to 1,000 hospital beds.

Services would be split into these new buildings; one up to 17 storeys, a women and children’s building of up to 11 storeys, and a third building of up to six storeys.

This illustration shows the three new buildings that would be constructed. Credit: West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust

This illustration shows the three new buildings that would be constructed. Credit: West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust

In line with the trust’s requirements, the clinical services proposed within the redeveloped hospital in Watford include A&E, intensive care, theatres, the maternity unit, services for children and young people, haematology, gynaecology, orthopaedics, and more.

As part of the outline planning application, existing hospital buildings would be demolished.

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Planning documents put together by Building Design Partnership, on behalf of the trust, state the majority of existing buildings on the existing hospital site are in "poor condition".

BDP adds the design of the existing buildings means that infection control management is "more challenging" and "beds are too close together to support good care and promote privacy and dignity".

The trust’s Strategic Outline Case (SOC) for redevelopment identified the significant challenges faced over recent years stating that the age, dated design and poor condition of its buildings is having a "detrimental impact on the delivery of safe, effective, responsive and efficient care".

The new hospital site would cover a total of 3.67 hectares, which is around half the size of the current hospital site.

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Concept drawing of proposed new hospital site

The main public vehicle access would be via Thomas Sawyer Way in the south, and pick-up and drop-off would be located at the south of the proposed development.

Public transport access remains from bus stops on Vicarage Road to north of the site, while blue light access will remain at the junction between Thomas Sawyer Way and Willow Lane.

The hospital would have a total of 1,694 car parking spaces, including a 1,290 space multi-storey car park, which is under construction.

Importantly, this multi-storey solves an issue patients currently face of walking up a steep hill from the car park to the hospital.

A file photo taken of the current main car park at Watford General with the hospital in the background

A file photo taken of the current main car park at Watford General with the hospital in the background

The planning application will be considered by Watford Borough Council. If it is approved, the trust will use the permission as part of its business case to the government for funding to rebuild Watford General and invest in St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead hospitals.

The trust is in line to receive capital funding of around £400 million but could bid for as much as £590 million after being informed by the Department for Health last year that extra funding may be available.

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The trust's Acute Redevelopment Programme Director, Duane Passman said: "We are fortunate to have had great collaboration from our BDP – our architects – and clinicians and this has led to plans that are exciting whilst being completely focused on our patients and our clinical services. Working with BDP on the outline planning application has been a successful and creative partnership and we think this shows in the proposals submitted to Watford Borough Council.

"We plan to use this once in a generation opportunity to transform Watford General Hospital for the benefit of all of the communities served by West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust. We are confident that our plans for this site and those at Hemel Hempstead and St Albans will greatly enhance the experience of anyone being cared for, working at or visiting our hospitals."

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Mr Passman added: "Up to 90 per cent of the buildings at Watford General will be new and will be on land next to, not on, the current site. This will help us to keep disruption to a minimum for our patients as we develop fantastic new facilities which will have the latest technology, a higher ratio of single rooms, improved diagnostic equipment and the benefit of landscaping and modern and accessible design.

"The outline planning applications for Hemel Hempstead and St Albans City hospitals will be submitted this summer. The order in which buildings and sites are rebuilt and refurbished is yet to be decided."

The outline planning application for Watford General can be found in the council's planning portal. The reference is 21/00765/OUTM.