ONE of Britain's best known architects has designs on Herefordshire's biggest ever development project. Flamboyant Piers Gough says he is "not interested in the norm" for the Edgar Street Grid.

Just appointed to the project team, Mr Gough wants a Grid that plays a leading part in the "drama" of Hereford's cityscape without upstaging what's already there.

At 60, Mr Gough made his name with striking shape-shifting designs, some as controversial as they were conceptual. He has the likes of London's Docklands and the regeneration of Glasgow's Gorbals on his CV.

He is also outspoken and unshakeable in his enthusiasm for uncompromising modern architecture. His work with Jonathon Bretherton, chief executive of the Grid project, on the Vaux Brewery development in Sunderland led him to Hereford and the unique opportunity to shape the future for Britain's smaller regional centres.

CZWG, the architectural firm of which Mr Gough is a partner, is taking on the Grid in tandem with design outfit Urban Initiative and traffic flow specialists Crowd Dynamics, who are currently working with the Saudi government on handling the vast numbers of pilgrims flocking to Mecca.

Since his appointment, Mr Gough has toured the city incognito to see "a place re-discovering its purpose". His first thoughts on a design brief yet to be drawn up are that central Hereford has a dramatic beauty in its buildings, but with much of it lost to bad planning over the ages.

"Before we start fleshing out what should go on the Grid, we've got to get the bone structure right. Hereford doesn't come together properly, it's cut off from itself and we need to make it connect," said Mr Gough.

The city, he said, should and could be much more of a regional draw and the Grid can bring that "big day out" factor. The challenge lay in developing the 100-acre site without isolating Hereford's historic centre.

So the man who likes tall is thinking small, dropping his trademark towers to see what he and his team can do with low rise designs.

"There is no need for high buildings in Hereford, anything above 10 storeys would be too much," said Mr Gough.

Down-to-earth dynamism could be expressed in wide boulevards and water, with the restored canal basin being a focus for the project as a whole, he said.

The Grid team gets together later this month for its first talk through ideas for the planned mix of housing, shops and civic buildings. Mr Gough said he was not going to settle for the norm.

"There's everything to play for here. Manchester showed how major post-industrial cities can be transformed, Hereford could show how smaller post-pastoral centres can be transformed too. I can't think of anywhere else in Britain that this opportunity is offered," he said.