Jesse Norman, member of parliament Hereford and South Herefordshire, thinks overall plan is good for our city’s future (From Hereford Times)
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Jesse Norman, member of parliament Hereford and South Herefordshire, thinks overall plan is good for our city’s future
8:00am Wednesday 25th April 2012 in Letters
THE development of the Edgar Street Grid area has always been contentious. There have been serious public concerns, focusing on cost, on increased traffic on Newmarket Street, on the links between the new shops and the medieval city, and on the new development's effect on existing shops and retailers in High Town.
I have raised these issues at length with Herefordshire Futures, and with the council. At a recent meeting with Herefordshire Futures I sought and was given assurances that the financial terms of the Stanhope contract had not materially altered, and that the net effect of any final changes would not be to harm local retailers in and around High Town.
Local people understand that this approach may well be much better for Hereford than a series of out-of-centre developments driven purely by market forces. But the case needs to be made again, to build public understanding and consensus.
At the same meeting I was also given assurances that every reasonable step would be taken to use local contractors and trades in the construction phase of the development.Herefordshire Futures now needs to provide the public with much more detail on this vital issue.
The Edgar Street Grid has followed a very long and time-consuming process, and it has been badly delayed by the severe economic downturn of the last four years. Many but by no means all of my concerns have been addressed over this period. But on balance, I support the development, for three reasons: Ã I think it will give the city as a whole a real economic boost; Ã Local people will benefit from the new shops, cinema and housing; and Ã It will in turn lead on to more higher education, which is vital for the county's long term economic development.
The public concerns I have described remain real and important.
But recent argument has tipped over into personal acrimony and aggression, which have no place in Herefordshire. The new development is now almost certain to go ahead. We all now need to make it work – for everyone working and living in the county.
JESSE NORMAN Member of Parliament, Hereford and South Herefordshire