THE first stage of a long-term project for the multi-million pound re-development of Hereford's Edgar Street Grid (ESG) has taken place.

The project to build a new retail quarter on the site of the old livestock market has been launched to potential developers.

ESG Herefordshire Ltd, the company set up to lead the re-development, is mailing a sales brochure to UK and overseas development companies, inviting them to compete for the job of creating Hereford's new 12.5-acre retail quarter, which will cost between £150 million and £200 million.

This will include shops, leisure outlets and more than 150 new homes.

Advantage West Midlands has also underlined its commitment to the ESG project by increasing its financial commitment from £5 million to £20 million.

Jonathan Bretherton, chief executive of ESG, said: "All major development companies capable of undertaking such a huge and exciting re-development project as we have planned for the retail quarter are being invited to register with us and I expect considerable interest from them.

"We are seeking developers who can demonstrate experience in delivering comprehensive mixed-use developments in partnership with the public sector, and who have a track record of delivering sensitively handled extensions to historic centres."

A shortlist of three developers will be drawn up and each will be asked to prepare their plans for the retail quarter, which is currently unnamed.

These plans will be on display as part of a public consultation process before the decision is made about the choice of developer partner.

The public will also be asked to suggest names for the new shopping centre and leisure complex.

The scheme will also be showcased at the MIPIM conference in the south of France, which will be attended by 22,000 key players from the property world.

Nigel Hudson, development team leader of Advantage West Midlands, said: "This is a golden opportunity to really promote the superb development planned for Hereford."

Meanwhile, Mr Bretherton will make a presentation on the future of the Edgar Street Grid at the council chamber in Hereford Town Hall on Wednesday, March 21, at 6pm.

There will be an opportunity for the public to ask questions at the annual assembly of Hereford City Council, where electors will be able to debate local issues.

Residents can hear about what the council has been doing in the past year and there will be a presentation about its new website.