CHAOS REIGNS IN THE CORRIDORS OF POWER 15.12.18
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.