The proposed new hospital in Watford could be as high as 18 storeys, it has emerged."

Health chiefs in west Hertfordshire are currently drawing up plans to remodel and rebuild Watford General Hospital on its existing Vicarage Road site.

A planning application seeking outline permission is expected to be lodged with Watford Borough Council within weeks, with newly published illustrations suggesting the new hospital blocks could be built in three ‘finger’ blocks.

And now it has emerged that, in places, those blocks could be up to 18 storeys high – making it one of the tallest buildings in Watford.

According to documents produced as part of the public consultation, the maximum height of the development could be 87 metres.

See more: Watford General Hospital redevelopment plans unveiled in new video

But campaigners – who have pushed for the development of a purpose-built hospital on a greenfield site – have been quick to express concerns.

St Albans resident Andy Love says he is concerned by the sheer height of the blocks, which he says are more akin to high rise office blocks".

He says the design proves that the site is not big enough for the necessary development.

And he says the height – combined with the "seemingly narrow space" between the blocks – could bring additional risks, should the hospital need to be evacuated.

He added: "The risk of having to evacuate the entire hospital, should a new emergency and specialist care services hospital be built on a new and more spacious site, would be much lower."

Mr Love also suggests that the concentration of the build in the tower blocks will extend the construction time – suggesting that a new-build hospital on a greenfield site would be quicker.

But hospital trust redevelopment programme director Duane Passman says the construction would be just as quick.

He said: "It’s going to be a tall building – its going to be one of the taller buildings in Hertfordshire.

“[…] There’s no getting away from it. It is going to be a taller building – but that has advantages as well."

Mr Passman says that if a hospital this size was limited to just three storeys high it would run for a third of a mile.

Addressing concerns about evacuation, Mr Passman stressed the blocks are 17 metres apart – making it unlikely a fire would jump between blocks.

He says evacuation procedures and safety are an important part of the design process.

And he says a "compartment" design would contain any fire in an area – roughly half the size of a ward – for up to two hours.

Mr Passman added: "Fire requirements in hospital buildings are very tough. And we don’t play with people’s lives."

Read more about the redevelopment plans for Watford General Hospital, and St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead hospitals here.