PLANS for the regeneration of Hereford city centre have won the approval of the Urban Review Panel, a group of national experts in the field of urban design, who regularly scrutinise similar projects across the UK.

After a two-day visit to the city earlier this year, when the panel members examined the proposals by ESG Herefordshire Ltd to redevelop a 100-acre site, which includes the livestock market, the panel has issued its report.

It endorses the ESG blueprint to re-energise the centre of Hereford, praising its efforts to create a sensitive link between the historic core of the city and the new retail quarter planned for the livestock market, as well as its commitment to public consultation.

Jonathan Bretherton, chief executive of ESG, set up by Herefordshire Council and regional government agency Advantage West Midlands to co-ordinate the project, said: "It is extremely encouraging that such an experienced panel of regeneration experts, after studying our proposals in great detail, should give the green light to the principles of the scheme.

"Within their report there are some useful and constructive ideas on how the overall plan can be enhanced and we will be looking carefully at how these can be incorporated as part of our consultation on the master plan."

The panel was particularly keen that sustainability should play a key role in the development, claiming it would set down a marker to all those who aspired to live and work in a place of excellence.

It also urged the planners to involve young people in the venture.

The master plan for the ESG project will be unveiled on Tuesday at Hereford's Courtyard Theatre, prior to a three month period of public consultation.

The master plan will be on public view at Penn House, Broad Street, Hereford, and at the Info Centres in each of the market towns.Or it can be viewed on the ESG website www.esg herefordshire.