The building of a new multi-million pound ward block and Zen garden at Bradford Royal Infirmary has been given the green light by planning chiefs at Bradford Council.

But although bosses at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust insist they are committed to the plan, they say it is still early days for the scheme that is likely to house paediatric services.

The planning permission gives the Trust three years to start the work. If it does not happen within that timeframe, an application to renew permission will have to be made.

In 2011, after a consultation involving the public, staff, patients and Trust governors, it was announced that children’s services had beaten cancer services as the speciality to make the new block its home.

It will also include a Zen garden with gravel raked into wave shapes, as well as car parking .

At that time the block’s construction cost was put at about £28 million, but two years on that sum is likely to have changed, according to a hospital spokesman, who said tenders had still not been put out for the project.

The spokesman said: “We’re committed to modernising our hospital estate and reinvesting money to improve our services for patients. However, it’s still early in the process and we are a long way off from construction.”

When the project goes ahead the new development is likely to include wards for other medical services as well as paediatrics, a revised rear entrance with improved access, space for retail outlets such as a shop, coffee bar and restaurant and a new reception area.

The ward block, on the hospital’s site off Smith Lane, is the biggest single part of a capital programme which would see £75 million spent on improving patient care in Bradford’s hospitals over the next five years, but the delivery of that programme is also dependent on the Trust’s financial performance.

The Trust has also applied for planning permission to build an extra car park with 147 spaces for the public on the former Springfield Complex site in Squire Lane with lighting and CCTV.