Hospital managers have been told to reduce their Private Finance Initiative (PFI) plans by millions of pounds to limit long-term financial commitments.
The University of Leicester Hospitals Trust had thought plans submitted to the Department of Health (DoH) for £761m of improvements were acceptable.
But the DoH said hospital trusts needed to think carefully about taking on the long-term debts associated with PFIs.
Plans for the Leicester Pathway project will now have to be cut back to £600m.
The trust outlined plans to revamp the Leicester General, the Royal Infirmary and the Glenfield with money from a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) when the DoH decided to review all PFI projects in early 2006.
Peter Reading, chief executive of the University of Leicester Hospitals Trust, said savings would be made by making more use of existing buildings.
"The challenge is to show that we can deliver the two emergency hospitals, the planned care and rehab hospital, build wards and operating theatres at our existing hospitals and create almost 2,000 more car parking spaces, all for less than we had originally budgeted."
"We are convinced we can pull this off," said Mr Reading.
The revised plans will be submitted by the end of May and the DoH will comment on the project in June or July.