THE Government has announced it is sending £22 million Hereford’s way for ambitious plans to “future-proof” the city for the next generation.
The plans, which were drawn up after suggestions by various groups in the city, were sent off to the Government as part of its Stonger Town Fund – and it’s been revealed Hereford is getting £22.4 million.
The bid, which asked for £25 million, included a striking library at Maylord Shopping Centre, which was recently taken back over by Herefordshire Council in a £4.5 million deal.
The #StrongerHereford board, backed by the council, was responsible for putting the bid together, which also included the idea for electric buses in the city and a revamped riverside.
Hereford MP Jesse Norman said it was “fantastic” news for Hereford.
“I pay tribute to the Hereford Towns Fund board and the whole Stronger Hereford team,” he said.
“This is the largest amount awarded in the region, which reflects the incredible amount of local consultation and sheer hard work from everyone involved.
“Over the past 10 years, the Government has really stepped forward to support this county.
“I count more than £100 million in total investment since 2010. That includes investment in the Enterprise Zone, in fast broadband across the county, in Hereford hospital, in the new GP medical centre, and in NMITE, our pioneering technology and engineering institute, among many other projects.
“We are well on the way to making Herefordshire the best place in the UK to live in, to work in and to raise a family. Let’s do it!”
The board described itself as a “blend of people from private, public and community sectors who all have Herefordshire in their heart”.
The total development cost of these projects was said to be £44 million, and the #StrongerHereford board asked the Government for £25 million from the towns fund.
The 15 ideas, which board member and Hereford mayor Kath Hey said were “very much about future proofing the city for the next generation”, including a new electric bus service to connect various destinations in the city, improving the appearance of the city, and a new library at Maylord Shopping Centre.
There were also plans for a new sports hub in Holmer Road, refurbishing Castle Green Pavilion, improving the infrastructure around the river Wye, and revitalising an area of Newton Farm.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which was behind the scheme said the money will help the towns grow their local economies, while also carving out new opportunities to reshape the look and feel of their areas.
“The deals will help breathe new life into neglected areas or unused buildings by creating vibrant spaces for businesses, community events or much needed new homes,” a spokesperson said.
“Projects also include renovations to attractions like Hastings Castle helping to boost the cultural and tourism offers of towns.
“Sustainability is at the heart of many of the schemes with new greener transport infrastructure including cycle paths and pedestrian walkways that will connect areas in the greenest way possible.
“The deals will also create thousands of jobs, with many towns investing in opportunities to improve skills through new vocational training hubs that will support high skilled and higher paid jobs in the area for local people.”
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, who has a home in Herefordshire, said the Government was levelling up towns and cities across the country by building stronger and more resilient local economies, boosting prosperity and opportunity in our communities, and helping them build back better from the pandemic.
“Today I am announcing new town deals in 26 areas, backed by over £610 million investment from the Towns Fund,” he said.
“This will support locally-led projects to transform disused buildings and public spaces, deliver new green transport and create new opportunities for people to develop new skills. This is a boost for communities and businesses across England.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the £3.6 billion Towns Fund for an initial 101 places across England in July 2019.
The department said a town deal was an agreement in principle between government, the lead council and the town deal boar, which set out a vision and strategy for the area, and what each party agrees to do to achieve this vision.
The recently-announced offers respond to locally-led proposals put forward by the lead council and town deal boards, with representation from business, the local community, public sectors and local MPs.