Politicians in Watford have hailed a government cash pledge as a “critical stride” towards the £1bn redevelopment of the hospital site.

Yesterday the Department of Health confirmed that £7m would be made available for the building a new route to the link road with the M1 from the back of the hospital.

When finished the road will lead from the back of the hospital by the Cardiff Road industrial estate to Wiggenhall Road, it will then cut through the playing fields by the Irish Centre before linking with Dalton Way.

The road project will cost considerably more than £7m but hospital bosses have said the government cash is enough to get the project started.

The money has come from an NHS capital fund after lobbying by the area’s MP Richard Harrington.

He said he approached the health minister Andrew Lansley last week after fears had been raised about funding for the access road.

It was in an early morning meeting that Mr Harrington pitched the access road to health ministers in a bid to get them to back the project with funding.

The hospital was told on Thursday that the government confirmed that it was contributing funding towards the road.

Mr Harrington said: “I was quite surprised by the speed of it [the decision]. I said it was absolutely crucial to the Health Campus. That was the most important part of my argument.”

Funding for a vital road link into a proposed health campus in Vicarage Road has been announced by the Department for Health.

The Watford Health Campus will see the hospital completely redeveloped with housing, businesses, a facilities built in.

The idea was conceived as a way to improve the hospital’s outdated infrastructure, while keeping it at the Vicarage Road site.

In May 2007 a public consultation was held and then in July an outline planning application was submitted.

The new road will also be one of the first things to be finished and will allow lorries to access the site during construction without congesting existing roads, and is scheduled to be completed by late 2014.

The Health Campus will include a new 510 bed hospital, costing around £320 million, to replace the existing Watford General Hospital.

There will be a specialist women and children’s unit delivering 6,000 births per year, and a new mental health unit to replace Shrodells.

The new West Herts Acute Hospital will serve the needs of people in West Hertfordshire and beyond so will need strong public transportation links.

In addition, there will be 3,000 new homes, businesses, leisure and recreation facilities, improvements to Vicarage Road stadium and hotel services as well as the new combined heat and power plant.

The project is anticipated to cost about £1billion. Much of this will come from the private sector investment in the housing, office facilities, hotel, retail and conference facilities.

The proposed timescale is for the new hospital facilities to be built by 2018, and the whole project to be finished by 2021.

The next step is for West Hertfordshire NHS Trust to obtain foundation status, which will give it the fiscal autonomy to get the Health Campus off the ground.

Watford’s mayor Dorothy Thornhill said together with the Croxley Rail Link the access road was a significant stride towards making the Health Campus a reality.

“I think they are two critical strides,” she said. “They both give strong signals to developers that the project is serious and going somewhere.”