Hopes to transform Harpenden Memorial Hospital in to a health and wellbeing campus will become a reality, it has been announced.

The Red House Forum, the campaign group, is delighted the NHS has confrmed the hospital will be redeveloped into a much needed local facility providing health and welfare services for the community.

Since the community hospital’s residential wing was closed in 2006 The Red House has been the subject of numerous campaigns and petitions.

Eric Midwinter, a leading member of the Forum, which is a campaigning group formed by The Harpenden Society, said: "We believe very strongly that a refurbishment of this much-loved hospital is vital.

"Harpenden needs a local health amenity and in-patient care and this has been acknowledged by Hertfordshire Community Health NHS Trust which now publicly backs the transformation plan wholeheartedly."

Legal, architectural and financial details need to be resolved, and the range of services agreed, but campaigners are very hopeful indeed that the new health provision will go ahead at last.

The approval of the Secretary of State will be sought in the summer of 2014.

Mr Midwinter: "If all goes well it should be up and running by the autumn of 2017. All members of the Forum are delighted; I would like to acknowledge their assistance especially that of Teresa Heritage, County Councillor for Harpenden South West division and Cabinet Member for Public Health and Localism at Hertfordshire County Council."

Teresa Heritage added: "I am thrilled that the Board of the Community Trust has agreed to support the renaissance of the Red House.

"The Trust, working with the community, GPs and local health and wellbeing partners, has a once in a lifetime opportunity. Together we can create a state of the art health and well-being campus for Harpenden and its environs. It will demonstrate the integration of health and social care at local level."

To obtain the approval of the Secretary of State, residents are now being asked to show significant support for the project.

They are invited to sign the online petition by searching Google ‘Red House petition’ or visiting http://goo.gl/28g1XK.

Chris Marsden, Chairman of The Harpenden Society, said it was "wonderful news."

He said: "The project has the unqualified backing of everyone in Harpenden and it is a very happy day for the residents. We are proud to be the prime mover of this initiative and thank all those who have made this possible. We look forward to the revivified Red House opening."