This response to the consultation endeavours to capture the broad range of members’ opinions, bearing in mind the Society is a forum for the built environment.
The Herefordshire Council asked for comments via an over enthusiastic Survey Monkey questionnaire, even asking for views on parking restrictions in specific streets. At the time of compiling this report the new web site hereford202.com was not providing full details of the wider improvements, nor plans showing the Hereford City Centre Traffic Package, which we reported upon in our Summer 2015 magazine PLACE, and clearly is relevant.
Clearly there are areas of paving that need attention; but the wholesale replacement of hard landscaping is entirely frivolous, especially in times of austerity. The three phased approach will mean disrupting trading three times. The current paving does not discourage visitors to High Town. The new paving will not attract additional visitors.
It is unlikely there is one person in the whole of Hereford who would dig up his or her driveway and then replace it again within eight years of installation. The brass letters will eventually all disappear and the indentations will still tell a story. The few areas of subsidence, especially in front of the Butter Market, need little more attention than a man and a barrow, not an international company – consider the huge savings that are being made by parishes across the county undertaking local maintenance at reasonable cost
The Society remains unhappy with the use of one company to undertake design, supervision of works and execution. There is already in place the excellent work by Ben Hamilton-Baillie entitled the Hereford Streetscape Design Strategy April 2009 that was largely embraced by all parties as the way forward for Hereford in terms of street design. Further there is no reference to the improvements scheduled for elsewhere in the City. (Hereford City Centre Traffic Package).
Both the above two projects entail huge investment but there is a middle way.
First spend the money on our junctions and gateways.
A landscape architect would consider the City holistically and alight on which special features to highlight, of which there are many in Hereford. Further he/she would study the habits of the occupiers of the public spaces, the daily movements, what people actually do. There is much research on this and essentially we are all looking at other people, looking in shop windows and avoiding the clutter of A boards, kiosks and their paraphernalia; we are not looking much above ground floor level and we are not looking at the paving on which we walk. What happens in between does not matter as much because we do not notice it.
The Sustainable Transport Package of 2012 was allocated to expensive improvements to Broad Street, but the Council (encouraged by HCS) rightly transferred much of this spend to improving cycle routes.
The High Town budget should now be transferred to improvements to the junctions at
Broad St./West St./East St. (proposed in the consultation)
Church St./East St.
Bath St./St. Owens St./Ledbury Rd.
Blueschool St./Commercial Road and Commercial St./Bath St/Union St.
Urgent improvements to High Town and the sprig down to St. Peter’s Square
The consultation documents provide little real detail and do not provide the legally necessary option- “do nothing”.
Trees. Existing silver birch are past their sell by date and a few well- placed trees are considered essential. The Hereford Tree Forum has proposals that we endorse.
New Street Furniture. We prefer a contemporary design. Whilst the new seating in the old Market is hardly high quality, a case could be made to have similar to continue the one City theme to which we should all be working.
Lighting. The existing lighting standards are both appreciated and hated. Here again it is an extravagance to remove functioning lighting that lights the whole area in an inconspicuous way. We believe they should be retained and are preferable to expensive light fittings fixed on buildings and Victoriana should not be used.
Cycle Parking. There is insufficient detail to comment apart from suggesting that much more needs to be provided; although care should be taken not to turn large areas into cycle parks as seen at many London Stations. Smaller blocks of cycle racks spread around the city centre to give twice the cycle parking would be preferable.
Signage. This should be coordinated and much work was completed on this under Destination Hereford and further consultation is NOT required.
City Squares. Hereford needs to regain its status as a premier county city. Great city places in this country, and on the continent, are largely uncluttered areas providing a focus. If one thinks of Hereford we suggest many think immediately of High Town – it should be a grand space with café tables spilling out from restaurants – not a cluttered area of kiosks, gas bottles and waste bins. Perhaps it should also sport a great screen on which to display special events, with a magnificent sound system. Perhaps a movable investment for the city as a whole so that it could be used for festivals/ events elsewhere on Castle Green, Cathedral Close and Bishops’ Meadow?
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