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Hereford Times Opinion Piece

The Society’s Chair, at the invitation of the Editor of the Hereford Times contributes an occasional “Opinion Piece” for Herefordshire’s principle weekly newspaper of record.


28th March 2024

It has been a delight these past few weeks to watch artists in the City Centre completing the publicly-funded murals that now adorn former blank/ unkempt building walls and narrow dingy passageways. So welcoming and amusing for residents passing each day and those visiting Hereford for the first time. The artists and the team who commissioned these works deserve our hearty congratulations.


There is a mural by the Herdsman’s public house that we can now ponder while waiting for the pedestrian light to go green before crossing Newmarket Street to visit the Old Market.

I have always been impressed by the design of this pedestrian crossing: a raised pavement across the road; no kerb to trip over; when its wet, no puddle to navigate or splashes to dodge from passing vehicles.  A safe pedestrian refuge in the middle of the carriageway for those in a hurry.  There is also an absence of railings, that elsewhere in Hereford City Centre fence us pedestrians at the edge of the road as if we were sheep.


The reason similar pedestrian crossings aren’t found elsewhere in Hereford City Centre is because vehicles are restricted to 20mph in Newmarket Street. Elsewhere, vehicles are permitted to travel up to 30mph, hence the need to “protect” the vulnerable pedestrian.  The current 30mph speed limit in the city centre possibly allows vehicles to get to their destination more quickly, but more probably disadvantages the economic prospects of adjacent areas where traffic speed discourages passing trade.


In the Civic Society’s proposed design of the Station Transport Hub, we would replace the current five sets of traffic lights on the “Link Road” with small roundabouts. This would result in improving connectivity for the pedestrian and the cyclist. We would argue that a 20mph speed limit with a sensible road design, with no traffic lights to obey enables a speedier journey than the present 30mph.

11th January 2024

Reviewing the planning application for the proposed Hereford Transport Hub during these past six/ seven weeks has proved a daunting task. The “shovel ready” proposals (the documentation is extremely detailed and extends to hundreds of pages) includes an inordinate amount of information on the selection of trees and shrubs and choice of paving materials.  All without the consultants employed by Herefordshire Council first discussing their favoured design principles with stakeholders.


Who are these stakeholders?  They are listed in the Design and Access Statement and include (with logo), Hereford Civic Society. Why is it we have not been invited to a single meeting or workshop?  I made several written requests during 2023 that we be allowed to participate but to no effect. Is this also the experience of other named stakeholders?


The Council’s Hub design is seriously flawed.  The Government agency, Active Travel England agrees with this assessment (their comments can be found on the Council’s planning portal, 233009).  The design requires moving the location of buses calling/ terminating in front of the station entrance, to locations on the site’s periphery.  The current County bus station off Commercial Street gets but a brief single mention (it might close), the city bus station none at all.  As a public transport interchange, the Hub has to be of a design that serves a catchment area that extends beyond the city boundary, enabling Hereford station to be regarded as an attractive gateway to the railway network for longer distance journeys currently made by car as well as an interchange for bus passengers using services from Herefordshire’s market towns and Hereford city routes.

The Council’s current design doesn’t provide sufficient expansion or provide sufficient comfortable facilities for waiting bus passengers. Our proposals include protecting the canal basin area for its future restoration; bus passenger access to station refreshment facilities from the station forecourt without going through the station ticket barrier (included in plans consulted on in November 2022 but absent in the Council’s plan); less extensive plaza; secure/ covered cycle storage; design changes to the Link Road.

Words highlighted in red, omitted by the Hereford Times as they exceeded the word count) 


30th November 2023

This year, Hereford Civic Society celebrates its 50th Anniversary.  Time therefore to take stock and look back to April 16th 1973 and the Society’s inaugural meeting held in Hereford Town Hall. 


Announcing the meeting in the Hereford Times on April 6th 1973 under the headline “Civic Trust society to guard Hereford’s character”, the article went on to say that Hereford required a civic trust as a “defence against those destructive forces which threaten all cities at this point in the 20th Century”.

The ambition then was “that once formed, the society will provide a platform for public opinion on all important issues concerned with the protection of the character of Hereford and to ensure that all changes are of the highest standard and to make a constructive contribution to the future of Hereford”. This still remains true.


Our members have a passion for where they live. We look to promote high quality in planning and architecture, often by joining forces with other interested community groups.  The planning system gives us a voice whereby we are able to comment on property owners’ and developers’ plans to adapt, demolish or construct new buildings. The final decision always lies with the Planning Officer who is required to take into account our comments and those of others when arriving at a decision.  Many a time planning rules aren’t robust enough to support our point of view, but there are occasions when our opinions come through loud and clear in the decision letter.  Would that have happened without our commenting on the applicant’s plans?  Maybe, maybe not.


Fifty years on, our monthly meetings at the Kindle Centre with guest speakers continue to be well supported, together with a programme of Society visits and during the summer months, guided walks to one or another corner of our City.  We currently have 130 members.  Why not join them?  Details can be found on our website.

11 May 2023

At the time of writing, the local election count was still taking place.  By the time you read this, the Councillors chosen to be our representatives for the coming four years will be known.  Will the result be as last time, when no one political grouping commands a majority?


This possibility was certainly the impression left in the minds of the eighty or more people who attended the Hereford Civic Society’s public Election Hustings meeting at the Kindle Centre on April 13th.   Perhaps the reason that representatives from four of the six political groups who accepted our invitation to debate issues facing Herefordshire Council were so kind to each other, was because they thought that they might need to work together to deliver their election promises. 


Indeed, such working together might be the desired outcome of those who favour an electoral system based on proportional representation, where Councillors are focused on working together and finding solutions to local problems.  


A personal thank you to the outgoing coalition and to Council Officers for not being afraid to consult widely on many long-standing issues confronting the county.  Thank you for listening to those affected, consulting with the public and seeking advice from those with expertise and those who have an interest in their resolution.  Issues have included children’s services, cleaning up the Wye, completion of the Link Road project, Hereford Transport Hub, policies to address climate change, transport, the Library and Museum Service, the City Master Plan and supporting those in our community who are vulnerable or in financial need.


The temptation for any organisation is to maintain the status quo.  Progress is mostly achieved by bringing about change.


23 March 2023

It is heartening that the Council Cabinet in early March approved the Hereford City Masterplan interim report, with words in support from councillors of all political persuasions.


In our response to the Master Plan consultation, Hereford Civic Society highlighted a number of issues relating to how we move around our city:

The city centre isn't necessarily everyone's destination, although current bus services mostly assume it is. There should be a genuine bus interchange with co-ordinated service timetables that enable timely cross city journeys with connections to “county” services and trains without excessive waiting times.


Recently introduced changes in the Highway Code create an ordered priority:  pedestrian, cyclist and lastly motorist. The concept of "Shared Space" and the adoption of a uniform 20mph city speed limit would enable the removal of some traffic lights, thereby increasing road capacity and shortening end to end journey times.  We have all experienced the frustration of waiting at a red traffic light or a succession of red lights with no other vehicle in sight.   With a 20mph speed limit, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists are able to co-exist with less costly infrastructure and street furniture.  It’s also safer.

Consideration should be given to constructing cross-city cycle paths/ pedestrian routes in addition to routes to and through the city centre.


We are concerned that street design in new housing developments currently builds in car dependency and that the Council’s design guidelines shouldn't require all dwellings to have multiple car parking spaces. Many people live or move into in a city or town centre location so as not to be car dependent.

New housing developments require walking distance access to local day-to-day shops and community space, both buildings and parks.  Although care is required to ensure that out-of-town shopping centres do not lead to loss of city centre footfall and additional empty city-centre shops.

We look forward to commenting on the City Master Plan’s recommendations and priorities later this year.


5 January 2023

Especially for those of us living in Hereford, 2022 has been a busy year responding to Herefordshire Council public consultations.  The latest, the Hereford City Masterplan Project closes for comment on February 3rd 2023.   I encourage you to have your say.


The Masterplan Project document sets out a utopian vision for the city, similar to the one for the County included in the introduction to Herefordshire Council’s Strategic Spatial Options consultation (closed for comment in February 2022).  As residents, businesses, local and national government we all have a part to play.  It is our collective decision making that will take us (or not) along the agreed path. 


Alongside these two strategy documents, there have been a number of other consultations – St. Owen’s Street, Holme Lacy Road, Broad Street (Cathedral Quarter), also the station Transport Hub.  These projects have the appearance of proceeding without waiting for the completion of the Masterplan/ Core Strategy update. This worries me.


An example.  I don’t believe the cycle path in St Owens Street should terminate at the entrance to St. Peter’s Square or that the cycle path along Broad Street should end outside All Saints church.  Instead, these cycle paths should to lead to covered, secure, CCTV monitored cycle shelters located in the city centre’s smaller car parks.  This would provide those working in the city with an enticing option of cycling to work. More cyclists using the cycle paths will encourage others to do likewise, including secondary school children using cycle paths that terminate at the school gate.


Councillors are discussing the building of a multistorey carpark on the County Bus Station site.  They clearly have not been advised that the design of the proposed Transport Hub with four terminating bus bays is insufficient to accommodate existing services currently using the station forecourt and the twelve bay County Bus Station, let alone the ambition of running new services or current services at increased frequencies.  The recently consulted design for the Transport Hub does not deliver what most of us understand to be the promised strategic vision.  

17 November 2022

Herefordshire Council are currently conducting a public consultation for the proposed Transport Hub in front of Hereford Station. 


Its location, hemmed in between the Student Accommodation block and the Station Medical Centre on Station Approach is a major design constraint.  Both buildings compromise proposals for the transport interchange set out in the Hereford City Transport Package (2015). We told the Council so at the time approval was given for their construction.


A well-designed transport interchange would enable journeys involving a train, bus and other modes of travel, to be made effortlessly and seamlessly. All city and county bus services arriving/ leaving Hereford should be required to call or terminate there.  Also, services provided by long distance operators such as National Express as well as being the pick-up point for coach holiday companies.


For terminating services, there are four bus bays (there are twelve at the County bus station).  Plans include a small waiting room with toilets.  Outside, waiting passengers require greater protection against driving wind and rain and there is a need for increased seating.  We applaud the covered/ secure cycle store, but the key here is having safe cycle routes throughout the city including to the station.


The separation of terminating buses from taxis, the “drop-off” area and car park are designed so that once out of a vehicle/ bus, pedestrians have no road to cross.  The benefit of the DIRO (Drive in, Reverse out) design. But in scale, the proposals do not anticipate a future where greater reliance will be placed on public transport and less on the private car. 


Time for you to have your say?  Visit  The consultation closes on December 12th.

01 September 2022

It is excellent news that Herefordshire has secured the Saxon Hoard, buried by marauding Viking warriors near Eye in North Herefordshire during the late 9th century. That the necessary fundraising achieved its target is in no small part due to Herefordshire Council’s plans to renovate and create new exhibition space in Broad Street’s Rankin Building. Plans show it will be both an appropriate home to display this collection as well as many of the county’s historic artefacts and paintings currently hidden away in storerooms in Friar Street. 

Hereford Civic Society welcomes the more than doubling of exhibition floor space, enabling the display of the county’s archaeological riches and historic artefacts, as well as returning to public display many of Brian Hatton’s paintings not seen since the closure thirty years ago of the Art Gallery in Churchill Gardens. 

To make way for the enlarged museum and art gallery, there are plans to relocate the County Library to the Maylords Centre. On first hearing, my reaction was supportive. Unfortunately, the proposed space is spread over two floors in three distinct areas. In my view, not a satisfactory, nor a practical layout for either users or library staff. It is also possesses less space than the present library in Broad Street.  Increasing NMITE student population in the coming years suggests the need for additional, not less library desk space. 

Work to reconfigure the Rankin Building will not commence without relocation of the library. I would suggest that a temporary home for the library is required whilst a more appropriate permanent solution is sought. 


14 July 2022

We think of ourselves as a forum for debate.  For our next meeting, Hereford Civic Society has invited Rod King, Founder and Campaign Director, “20’s Plenty for Us” and transport/ street design expert Professor John Whitelegg.  They will set out the case for an urban speed limit of 20mph.


By way of background, in March 2020, Hereford City Council and Herefordshire Council separately passed motions to ask the executive to progress the introduction of area-wide 20mph speed limits across Herefordshire’s towns and major villages. During the initial coronavirus pandemic, temporary 20mph speed limits were introduced in some areas but subsequently, reverted to 30mph.   In October 2021, a 20 mph limit was introduced on the A44 and adjacent roads in Pembridge.


Hundreds of local authorities in England and Wales have already introduced 20mph zones, particularly in residential areas.  In the London Borough of Merton with a population of 211,000, greater than the whole of Herefordshire’s, all but four roads are 20mph.  On the Monmouth – Chepstow road, it is 20mph when travelling through Tintern, their local authority a step ahead of the Welsh Government’s plan to introduce legislation in 2023 to introduce a limit of 20mph on all urban and village roads throughout the Principality.  Scotland similarly by 2025.


It is an open meeting.  A Q&A session will follow the presentation so the opportunity for those with doubts/ reservations on a universal 20mph speed limit in urban areas to question the speakers. 


All are welcome.  Location:  Left Bank in Bridge Street, Hereford.  Date:  Thursday July 21st. The lecture will start promptly at 7.30pm. Entry: no charge.

28 April 2022

Rightly the appearance of the large freestanding containers along the central reservation of the City Link Road outside the Station Medical Centre has brought into question the Council’s spending priorities.  Behind the headline is I’m sure the complexity of Local Authority spending, with multiple pots of money each subject to stringent controls on where, when and on what the money can be spent. 


I have to admit a personal dislike of plants in containers. They are so needy, forever wanting watering and fall over or take a walk whenever the wind picks up. The tree containers along the Link Road are probably too substantial to take a walk, but trees have a capricious thirst which increases as they mature.  In summer months much of the moisture in the earth will be lost through evaporation through the containers’ sides.  As the trees grow, the container’s centre of gravity will become higher, particularly when the trees are in leaf so I question their future stability in high winds.


The Link Road was closed for several nights when the containers were placed in position. Should we expect this to be a regular occurrence when the trees require watering, as the road either side of the central reservation is a single carriageway?


Further along the Link Road, we note the recent removal of contractors’ portacabins outside Hereford station, freeing the site for the promised Hereford Transport Hub.  Might the Transport Hub be a preferred location for the trees, interspersed with a variety of cider apple and perry pear trees proposed by John Harrington?   A friendly and welcoming entrance to the city for those arriving by bus and train and shade for those waiting for onward transport by bus and taxi.  For those leaving by train, a lasting reminder of Herefordshire’s unique rural landscape.

10 March 2022    

Herefordshire Council is in the process of revising the County’s Core Strategy (currently to 2031).  It is being extended/ updated to cover the period 2021-2041. 

On January 17th, Herefordshire Council launched a Strategic Spatial Options Public Consultation, including a vision/ aspiration for Herefordshire in 2041.  The consultation was assisted by a series of very helpful recorded sessions explaining the consultation process. To meet the Council’s zero carbon goal, the strategy depends on an expansion of public transport. The recent withdrawal of some bus services is of course taking us in the wrong direction.

A target to build 850 dwellings a year is proposed.  Over the twenty years to 2041, a total of 17,000, which will increase Herefordshire’s current housing stock by around 20%. The consultation required the completion of an on-line questionnaire with a number of prescribed options seeking comments on where these 17,000 houses should be built.


Each option broke down the additional housing target between Hereford, each of Hereford’s five market towns and a total for rural areas/ settlements.  In addition, an option for a new market town which John Bothamley, my predecessor as chair of the Hereford Civic Society proposed in similar broad terms in 2015 and more recently in a Hereford Times article (24th February 2022 edition, One Planet section, p4).


As part of our response, we questioned the housing target.  Although outside the remit of the consultation, we felt account had not been taken of the current moratorium on the construction of new housing in north Herefordshire or of the need for action to address phosphate levels in the river Wye.  This includes discharges into water courses from storm drains, much allegedly originating from domestic properties in rural areas. 


The consultation lasted six weeks, closing for comment on February 28th.  We just managed to lodge our response in time but we are aware others are dismayed at the limited time available.

Links to Herefordshire Council’s consultation document, the proposal for a new market town and Hereford Civic Society’s response to the consultation can be found on our website.


23 December 2021

Over many years, Herefordshire Council has commissioned a number of reports and designed a number of schemes to encourage walking, cycling for short journeys, particularly within Hereford. The majority of these reports await implementation including the Hereford and South Wye Transport Packages, Phase 2 Holme Road cycleway, St. Owen Street cycle contraflow, improvements in the city centre.


I’m saddened that money for the Station Transport Hub and improvements to Commercial Road, New Market Street and Blue School Street was used to fund overspends on the Link Road. These investments were the tools that would have enabled car-free journeys both within the city and further afield (bus interchange for local journeys and to Herefordshire’s market towns and for destinations further away, by train). These investments should have been the priority rather than regarded as an afterthought.


The Link Road of course formed part of the abandoned Edgar Street grid project that included an inner-city urban village, with town houses overlooking a reconstructed canal basin, the line of the canal having been protected under the Council’s Core Strategy. Instead of the planned vibrant inner-city community, all we currently see are fenced abandoned areas in the heart of the city with no co-ordinated planned future.


On a more positive note, I applaud Connexus Housing for transforming the former John Venn’s Hereford Working Boys’ Home and Industrial School buildings in Bath Street into much needed centrally located affordable housing. This housing is adjacent to the city centre and within walking distance of schools, shops and transport: a much more sustainable carbon-aware location than the new houses under construction in Holmer and currently proposed for Three Elms.

4 November 2021

The society’s October meeting at the Kindle Centre was our first face-to-face meeting in eighteen months, as during that time all of our monthly meetings were held online.   Much to our surprise, the online meetings attracted an average attendance of over twice the number who used to attend our face-to-face meetings.  Now that we have returned to the Kindle Centre, we will continue to use Zoom/ record meetings, enabling members not wishing to venture out on a dark/ cold evening, to participate from the comfort of home.


Walking around High Town and the city centre, I’m encouraged by the many signs of optimism.  Yes, there are a number of empty shops and of course, several famous High Street names have disappeared but do we really miss them? 


Optimism, where is the evidence?  I give some examples.  The TLC that has been given to commercial buildings in Audrey and West Street.   NMITE receiving its first year’s intake and the opening of student accommodation by the station.  The conversion of empty space above shops in the city centre to residential accommodation.  The reopening of Booth Passage to East Street and the readying of Booth Hall for reopening. The planning application under consideration for Bastion Mews.  They all demonstrate the business community’s confidence in Hereford’s future. I must not forget the greening of High Town with the tree planters and their adjacent seating that encourage us to linger and enjoy our surroundings.  Thank you, Herefordshire Council.


My only concern is that Commercial Street has attracted a number of additional takeaway food outlets, evidenced by an increase in discarded food containers/ wrappers on the ground and in the evening, vehicles being driven and parked illegally as orders are collected. I look forward to an early resolution on both issues which hopefully shouldn’t prove to be too difficult.  

19 August 2021

Hereford’s heritage stems from the days when it was a Saxon settlement.  We often associate heritage with the city centre, the area contained within the old City Walls.  However, there lie outside the city, buildings and landscapes that are exposed to unwelcome development.  They don’t have the protection of being in a conservation area.  Many are not listed; such was the case of St. Nicholas’s rectory in Breinton Road where approval has recently been given for its demolition. Others which are listed as being of National as well as of local importance are suffering from owner neglect. Possibly valued by their owners for their development potential rather than heritage value.


Conservation of heritage goes in hand with adapting, finding new uses for heritage buildings and parkland.  In their new role, they cease to be a liability.  They become a community asset valued by local residents and tourists, many visiting for the first time exploring our county’s heritage, hospitality, scenery and great local food and drink.


Space doesn’t allow the listing of all Hereford’s heritage assets that are at risk.  It is a long list. Those receiving our current attention include the Summer House/Aviary at Holmer Park (built from timbers from the Town Hall in Hereford of circa 1580-1600 which was demolished in 1862), Belmont Lodge and Elmhurst in Venns Lane:  all Grade 2 listed.


Belmont Lodge (Grade 2*) was designed by two of the most significant Georgian architects of their day, James Wyatt and Humphry Repton.  It also features the work of some of England’s most well-known Victorian architects:  Edward Pugin, William Nesfield and George Repton when the house was extended during the 1870’s.


The building has been on the Heritage at Risk register since 2006 and is now in a state of alarming deterioration.  The demolition of a historic coach-house and stable block made way for the construction of a club house for the former Belmont Golf Club.  In spite of its historical importance, the Belmont Landscape, the former park and gardens is not protected from unwelcome development.  There was a proposal to build 87 houses in the park in 2014 which was refused on appeal.  The now-abandoned Hereford Western Bypass at a high elevation was to have carved its path across its park. 


We would encourage Herefordshire Council when updating the current Core Strategy, to afford greater protection of our heritage, framed to allow new uses that respect the architecture and setting of the original. 

1 July 2021

The Times recently reported that in the past 10 years, more than 1.1m houses were granted planning permission than were built. We believe that incentives should be given to local builders, Local Authorities and Housing Associations to construct additional affordable homes, with less reliance on national house builders who have historically “land-banked” building plots.

Keeping an eye on Planning Applications forms a significant part of what we do.  The Government has set out in a recent White Paper major changes to the current planning system with the objective of speeding up the delivery of new housing.  Whilst we applaud the Government’s desire for greater community participation, we believe what is proposed will result in the opposite. 


The White Paper requires local authorities to place all land into one of three zones:  GROWTH (subject to a Master Plan Design Code).  RENEWAL (would cover the High Street, Town Centre/ residential suburbs and will be subject to local design codes/ guides) and PROTECTED (Conservation Areas, Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Local Wildlife Sites also subject to design codes/ guides).  


Public engagement will be confined to the development of local design codes and guides for each land category and its review/ revision at approximately 10-yearly intervals.  There will be no public engagement at the Planning Application stage, which is when most public engagement currently takes place.  There will be no yellow notices on lampposts to respond to. As long as the applicant’s plans are perceived to meet the design codes/ guides, they will be approved.


Hereford Civic Society believes it vital that the new legislation allows the public including ourselves to make representations on individual planning applications as now.


22 April 2021

The Civic Society maintains a watchful eye on Planning Applications submitted to Herefordshire Council. Written representations set out our comments, suggesting where we can a change that would remove our objection. 


Occasionally a proposed Planning Application receives our full and unreserved support.  This was the case with the proposed refurbishment of the former Moorfield Surgery and an application for the return of a traditional High Street greengrocer to High Town, trading from an open fronted shop.  May other independent retailers be inspired by this initiative which will contribute to a return of the traditional vigour/ buzz of the High Street scene to Hereford.


The Council’s approval of plans to demolish St. Nicholas Rectory in Breinton Road came as a huge disappointment.  Heritage assets in City suburbs deserve the same protection as those in the City centre, perhaps even more so to counter the lack of variety and individualism in modern housing design.  In this case policies designed to protect such buildings appear to have been cast aside without justification.  Conversion to apartments, together with a harmonious newbuild adjacent, could have achieved a similar objective without the loss of a building of architectural merit and the huge carbon footprint of demolition and reconstruction. 


Let me end with better news. Over several years, three planning applications were made to build a single residential property adjacent to Walney House Farm in a highly conspicuous location when viewed from the Lugg Meadows. The Applicant took his third application to appeal. The Planning Inspector dismissed the appeal for reasons which we believe will deter proposals on similar sensitive sites bordering the Lugg Meadows SSSI.

24 December 2020

Tomorrow, when we wake up it will be Christmas morning.  For many of us, the quest to stay safe will mean the disappointment of not being able to share the joy of being with family and friends.  This has been a challenging year for both young and old, for children, students, employees and business owners alike.


Looking back over 2020, we have much to be thankful for:  the dedication of key workers, those working in the NHS, the army of volunteers who have assisted both strangers and neighbours with daily tasks, the government programme that has provided shelter and counselling to the homeless and those living on the street.  All are steps that lead to a friendlier and kinder society.

“A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” is the traditional greeting to be found in letters and cards at this time of year, but what will the New Year bring?  Does commencement of the coronavirus immunisation programme and declining coronavirus infection in Herefordshire and the move into the Tier 1 category foretell life returning to normal by the summer?  For Hereford, 2021 will see the opening of the new Medical Centre by the railway station; the arrival of the first cohort of NMITE students; the Courtyard Arts Centre, refreshed from completion of its “Transform the Yard” project says that much has taken place in 2020 despite lockdown.


May I take this opportunity to wish you a safe Christmas, even if you are not able to share it with family and friends.   2021 is going to be so much better!

15 November 2020

Coronavirus has forced the Hereford Civic Society into adopting changed methods of working.  The receipt of a Herefordshire Council Fastershire “Keep Connected” grant was designed to encourage non-profit groups and organisations such as ourselves to adopt internet technology. 

Use of Zoom has become second nature, delivering talks to members on the ‘Yazor Brook Restoration Project’ (July), ‘Rotherwas:  Great House and Estate of the Bodenham Family’ (September) and ‘Historic Buildings and their Architecture’ (October).    All the talks have been recorded.  E-mail if you wish to receive the link.   On November 19th we are due to hear Duncan James’s talk 'Uncovering Secrets in Herefordshire Buildings'.  These talks will continue to be Zoom based until coronavirus is beaten.


Another of our work streams is the promotion of high standards of planning and architecture in the City of Hereford and its surroundings.  The market towns of Ledbury, Leominster and Ross-on-Wye have their own separately constituted Civic Societies.  Our Planning Sub-committee regularly meet on Zoom to discuss our response to new Planning Applications.  Although not possible in every case, we endeavour to be positive and include in our comments to the Planning Officer suggestions that potentially convert an objection into a design we can support. 


Unlike many unitary authorities, Herefordshire has no Local Heritage Listing of heritage assets of interest and significance that are not protected by statutory national designations. There is currently a government grant available to create such a list.  We are encouraging Herefordshire Council to make a bid.  Elsewhere the General Public, Local History and Civic Societies and Parish Councils have supported their Unitary Authority by photographing and compiling lists of buildings, parks and settings for possible inclusion.  Having a list affords these assets a degree of protection from demolition or unwanted adjacent development.   


Three years ago, working cooperatively with Herefordshire Council and Balfour Beatty we developed proposals that now form part of the proposed Active Transport measures (public consultation took place in January 2019).  These unfortunately got caught up in the on-going Hereford Transport Strategy review which I had hoped to say something about, but at the time of writing, the consultant’s report/ outcome of the review is awaited.  Next time perhaps?

20 August 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic affected us in ways we were not prepared for or had previously experienced.  For many, the daily routine has moved towards shopping online or at a local/ village shop rather than at a large centrally-located supermarket, children not being at school and much reduced travel/ congestion on our roads.  Video conferencing technology has become a popular way of “meeting” family members/ business colleagues or attending club/ society meetings. Cinema and theatre visits have been replaced by evenings in front of a television or computer screen. 


In Hereford, the Market Towns and in Herefordshire's smaller communities, volunteer networks/ village shops/ small businesses ensured that the needs of those self-isolating or lacking mobility received companionship and the delivery of food and medication. This came immediately following the flooding of the Wye for the second time last winter which also brought out the best in the support provided by neighbours and community leaders.

One consequence of the "lockdown" has been the reduction in the carbon footprint/ pollution from motor vehicles which if sustained would represent a major step towards our Council's 2030/31 Zero Carbon target. Central Government is seeking to "capture" this reduction in the use of motor vehicles through the encouragement of walking and cycling and use of public transport for short distance urban journeys. Herefordshire Council has rightly agreed to re-think some recently introduced measures, but we will all benefit from a reduction in the number of vehicles on our town and city's roads. As a nation we are moving towards a policy of increased reliance on public transport for journeys into town/ city centres with strategically located car parking on the periphery for those travelling from outlying rural communities. We need to remember that although electric vehicles will reduce transport's carbon footprint, they will not of themselves reduce traffic congestion. A successful town/ city will always be a busy place, so a modicum of congestion/ the occasional red traffic light should be expected. I wonder in which direction Herefordshire Council's Transport Strategy Review will be taking us in a month's time?

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