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Hereford Times 'Talking Point' - 8th August 2019

John Bothamley, Editor of our magazine PLACE, writes an occasional column in the Hereford Times.  Please note a majority on the HCS committee is not in agreement with John’s sentiments.

Transport Interchange

HCS members come up with an off-the-wall proposal for the transport interchange in Hereford. A new meeting place is created – no plastic and metal drafty shelters, no acres of tarmac for reversing buses – a new meeting piazza surrounded with trees.

See PLACE - Inspiration Summer 2019 for more details

Election Results 2019
New Coalition - June 2019

With a complete change of emphasis in approach the new coalition looks likely to reverse some major decisions of the previous Tory administration.

With a huge work load the new cabinet, four Independents, two from It’s Our County and two from the Green Party, have major decisions to take.

Our Summer 2019 edition of PLACE provides an analysis of the background of some of these issues.

Latest PLACE available at the station, the Town Hall, library, Buttermarket TIC and many other outlets. Also on this web site from early July 19.

May 2019

The election results suggest there could be a major change of direction when considering the built environment. Until a coalition is put together we will all have to wait and see. Hopefully Hereford won't have its Brexit moment and decisions can start to be made quickly. What is a real possibility is the cancellation of the Western Bypass. HCS will comment as soon as we have news.


Student Accommodation - latest - 4.3.19

Consent granted

Our objection to this monstrous carbuncle has been well aired. Suffice to say we failed to persuade the planning committee the error of their ways. What is of greatest concern is that the decision seems to have been taken for political reasons rather than on planning grounds. HCS would be less concerned if there was an overall cohesive plan for the development of Council owned sites – but there isn’t one. Cash raised from the Council owned farm sales is yet to be invested – there is no excuse for not making plans. HCS remains non-political.


The latest iteration for the proposed student accommodation on Station Approach is surely a joke? We checked to see if it was April 1st!  How can a developer propose this sort of thing?

It doesn’t require an architectural expert to say this is just horrible, ill conceived and what is it supposed to be saying?

HCS remains opposed to this application for all the reasons lodged on the Council website. Wrong building in wrong place. Where is the overall vision for the City?


Student Accommodation - Planning Application 183841

NMiTE has an inspiring new style university that it wants to establish. The Art College (HCA) needs to expand. Herefordshire Council (HC) will be pleased to see the economic benefits that could result. NMiTE and HCA want HC to underwrite potential shortfalls on rental income from student accommodation. NMiTE have recently changed their requirements for students to stay in their university accommodation. HC have no overall plan for the station approach/transport hub area but want to develop the restricted “Rockfield” car park as student accommodation for both NMiTE  and HCA to share. But the site is restricted by the route of a major sewer. HC hand the project to Keepmoat Redevelopment, their development “partners”, who have in the meantime been taken over by Cityheart as developers and Engie as contractors all with mega arrangement fees.

The result: a very poor piece of architecture on the wrong site.


The Essex Arms site on the Link Road, thought to be a preferred site by NMiTE, is growing weeds; and is in the “urban village” of the old and yet to be realised ESG plan. Like everyone else the developers are waiting for plans for the transport interchange, so it is rather difficult to plan logical access to and from their dreadful looking building. HCA believe it can be improved by adorning the Aylestone Hill side with student art! With the Design Special Planning Document (SPD), funded jointly by NMiTE and HC, still in preparation the Planning Committee should delay any consideration of the planning application for this building until the SPD is available as it is usual for Planning Inspectors to take account of developing plans. Meanwhile HCA say their very livelihood is at stake unless they increase student numbers and have accommodation by September 2020; but how can an art institute take over such an awful building in the wrong place?


It seems that all parties do not understand that it is imperative for Hereford to create a decent, joined up place for all to enjoy living in. Horrid blocks will not inspire potential students and their parents to come to Hereford, any more than the present concrete desert of the over-wide City Link Road, and, as yet, no easy route from the station into the City.

Maybe the minutes of the “monthly” meetings of the Joint University Delivery Board, (NMiTE and HC) could shine some light on these issues; but meetings have not occurred for months. Some real joined up thinking is badly needed.


See HCS AGM page for full report

The Declaration of 17th May, 2018

The Hereford Civic Society, here to champion what we love about Hereford as a place to live, work and visit, drawing upon the knowledge and experience of others, initiates this declaration for change in the way we plan and move about our City.


It is change which is badly needed for the sake of the future of Hereford as a vibrant, attractive and historically important place.   It is change needed in the interest of our sense of well-being and that of our successors. 


It is time we recognised the fact that the public realm should be laid out for individuals to encourage us to adopt healthy ways of moving around; recognition that our love affair with the private car degrades our environment, damages our health and separates us socially. Hereford is a small and attractive place so that journeys within the City should be short and pleasurable to make whether by foot, bus, train or bicycle.  Together we need to design a City that makes these the default options for everyone.


Hereford itself stands at a time of change having to develop a university, the ESG area and much more housing. Managing those changes will require a much more radical and imaginative approach. 


We urge Herefordians to join us in urging Herefordshire Council to make these changes:

  • Produce a City Masterplan – an overall vision that everyone works to

  • Change mind-sets so we become more open, embracing, adaptable and continental in our transport choices

  • Constantly challenge the 'car is king' approach to road design

  • Develop a best practice Design Guide, as recommended by Historic England, to ensure changes are fit-for-purpose and of high quality

  • Introduce a 'twenty is plenty' speed limit on all roads

  • Prepare travel plans covering the whole city, including schools

  • Fund improvements in a measured, equitable and incremental manner

  • Emphasise walking and cycling, e.g continuously level pavements across junctions

  • Promote park & choose schemes, joined up cycle lanes, integrated public transport, shared space schemes, de-signalised junctions and de-cluttered streets

  • Deliver the long promised 'Transport Hub' adjacent to the Railway Station together with improved access to the city centre

  • Critically review the design work of Balfour Beatty Living Places and their performance together with the Council’s supervision and control of the contract.


With particular thanks to leading highway planners Jessica Read and Brian Deegan who inspired  the Society's well-attended  'Upcycling Cycling' event at the University Centre

on 17th May 2018.

Historic England's  Urban Panel Report (March 2018) 

Local Government Association's Corporate Peer Challenge  Report (February 2018)


Further information from

John Bothamley on 01981 580002

Jeremy Milln at                                                                                    




UPDATE OCTOBER 2018 - granted consent! 

The former Leader of the Council speaking during the planning meeting considering the proposed GP hub said “It may not be the most attractive building in the world but then people don’t come to Hereford because it’s the most attractive either”. That says a lot about our current administration – look how they have demonstrated a completely uncouth approach to our City with the City Link Road.



Many members are seriously concerned about this proposal, its situation, style and how it fits into the overall plan for the City - but there isn't one. It is just another piecemeal project. Our member Jeremy Milln vented his anger by sending us this piece which is worthy of publication we think you'll agree. 


"The idea of the the current local health centres (Greyfriars, Moorfield House, Sarum House, Quay House, King Street and Bobblestock Surgeries) combing their booking and administration makes a lot of sense and I gather this will happen as Hereford Medical Group on 1st July.

Combining the physical infrastructure makes sense too at least from the Group's point of view because of the potential saving of costs and maintenance of so many smaller premises, though I particularly worry about the future of Greyfrairs once vacated, given it is scheduled as part of the City Wall.

The new build proposed however is most unsatisfactory and I suggest Civic Society lodge a strong objection. It is unsatisfactory architecturally as a slabby anytown 1990s excrescence; all cladding panels, glass sheet and curtain wall brickwork, the outdated product of sharp-suited PFI thinking.

It is also unsatisfactory, in the light of last might's event, from a sustainable transport point of view.  The site proposed is where much of the Transport Hub (relocated buses and coaches) was to go to left of the Railway Station (incidentally also where part of the Hereford Canal Basin had been, the rest now being under the new link road). The plan shows a building which would be impossible to reach safely as a cyclist or pedestrian.  A rack for 12 cycles is shown marooned in a sea of car-parking (92 spaces), sealed from the north and west by railway infrastructure, from the south by the city link road (no cycle lane or safe crossing) and the west by the relocated coach and bus station which, with its tawdry paraphernalia of cheap shelters and sheep pens, would be shifted to the concourse in front of the listed Railway Station. So basically you will have no choice but to get there in a motor vehicle - and its supposed to be a Health Centre!

Talking with members after the Cycling do last night I gather the Council have also changed their mind on the Rockfield part of the station Transport Hub site and, rather than being for a multi-story car park (hate them but can see the need and if one must have it anywhere this is probably the best place), Council is now talking to the University about selling it off to build student accommodation blocks there.  Horrible place to live I would have thought right on this busy junction.  Students deserve better and the promise was they would be integrated into the City, following the recommendation of the Urban Panel in really well designed developments across some of the land within the walls currently wasted on surface car-parking. 

Now guess what the Council want to put on the County bus & coach station site which, as Liz pointed out, is the obvious place for the new GP's Health Centre, as it is right next to the Hospital and is so accessible from the city?  You guessed it, the multi-storey carpark!  Yes, in spite of its relatively poor vehicle access and the fact it would add to congestion on Commercial Street. 

A member wondered whether, given the CPOs on the Rockfield site was on the basis of using the land for link road and transport hub, we could challenge the Council for trying to sell it off for residential. It hardly meets the test of greater public benefit.

It just makes to point, yet again, how crucial it is Herefordshire Council commits to a proper Masterplan for the City; one with vision, logic and long-term joined up thinking.

Its a disaster unfolding.

Hereford Civic Society is an independent local charity representing people who care about the city.Registered Charity No 503504

All material is not necessarily the view of the Society, which primarily acts as a forum for discussion around built environment matters, past, present and future.